Community and individual identity of the Kashmiri community : a case study of Luton
This thesis is the study of the relationship between individuals and communities in the context of racialised minorities in the United Kingdom. The research examines the ways in which individuals belonging to the Kashmiri community articulate and manifest 'Kashmyriat' in conditions of diaspora. Specifically, the research is an investigation of the core features of Kashmiri identity. These were selected as being identifications based on culture, religion and the territorial identification with the land of Kashmir, the nature of culture conflict between individuals and community and differences between generations of Kashmiris and the role of gender identity in 'Kashmyriat'. The central premise is that identity is constantly updated, multiple and redefined in relation to contextual changes through a process of enculturation. Results of the research suggest that culture, religion and territorial identification with the land of Kashmir are central core features of Kashmiri identity in Luton. The younger generation appear to be maintaining a distinct and separate identity based partly on shared culture, religion and terrirotial identification with the land of Kashmir with the older generation whilst they are redefining their identity in response to the contexts in which they have been born and brought up. Gender identities appear to be less significant as part of overall identity development. Theoretically the thesis is an exploration of identity and its relationship to cultural identity among migrants. In this thesis I rely on qualitative ethnographic work as well as the quantitative research methodology of Identity Structure Analysis (ISA) to try and draw a textured analysis of Kashmiri identity transformation in the wake of immigration to Luton. Using the notion of enculturation the thesis sets out to deepen and make this concept more academically rigorous. Enculturation is deployed as a means to understanding the process of identity transformation. Results of the research suggest that culture, religion and affiliation with the land of Kashmir. Whilst they share the first two with other South Asian ethnicised communities in the United Kingdom it appears that the territorial affiliation with the land of Kashmir which can be translated as political identity is currently their self-defined identity. This is marking the Kashmiris as a national community whose individuals and collectivities centre their identity on 'Kashmyriat'.