Contested terrains : negotiating ethnic boundaries in the city of Leicester since 1950
This thesis takes Leicester as a local case study to investigate the impact of Asian migration from the Indian subcontinent and East Africa on the white inhabitants and the migrants themselves. Oral history formed the basis of the research, and this allowed a unique insight into the subjective experiences and perspectives that shaped the respondents' daily lives. The thesis elucidates how and why people used racial narratives to exclude Asians, the influence of inter-ethnic contact, and the situations whereby white respondents' included Asians. This revealed the complex and contradictory nature of white attitudes which was not reducible to racism. The main part of the thesis concerns the difficulties encountered by the Asian newcomers, with a particular focus on the coping strategies they developed to pursue viable lives. These issues are examined in various contexts: the home, the neighbourhood, education and the workplace. These were not neutral spaces but represented key sites where power relations were highly contested.;Findings highlight how the Asian respondents encountered diverse forms of racial exclusion and it is argued that perceptions and experiences depended on the dynamic intersection of a complex factors. Gender was fundamental to the respondents' experiences. Asian women faced both post-colonizing forces and patriarchal systems within the Asian communities. For many women, racism was not the defining problem; instead, isolation was their main concern. The thesis analyses the underlying causes of such concerns and reveals how women actively negotiated constraints. This research, and the conclusions presented, is important since migration studies have been criticised for presenting a homogenised male perspective, ignoring the interplay between structures of domination and agency, and presenting women as disempowered, suffering endemic disadvantage. The research provides significant revisions based on intensive, in-depth interviews of migrants' experiences and those of the indigenous population between 1950 and 2000.