British-Islamic Identity

Third-generation Bangladeshis from East London

Paperback / softback, 176 pages, 234 mm x 156 mm
27 Feb 2015
Trentham Books

Price: £16.99

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How does it feel to be constructed as the violent, terrorist, un-British ‘other’? To be a minority in a majority situation, to have no sense of belonging, to be voiceless, marginalized and invisible?

British-Islamic Identity examines these issues through an ethnographic account of the lives and multifaceted identities of six British-born third-generation Bangladeshis from East London. Do they see themselves as Bangladeshi, British, Muslim, Londoners, none of these or a fusion of them all? Their stories are powerful, clear and unsettling, charting their journeys from invisibility to visibility and from the periphery to the core of social life.

The book shows how young Bangladeshis have constructed a new British-Islamic identity for themselves. British Islam is a dynamic and syncretic identity that occupies a social and spiritual space in their lives. It helps young British-born Bangladeshis to manage the complexities of being British, Bangladeshi and Muslim. It gives them a sense of belonging, recognition and acceptance, as they struggle against systemic and institutional racism, isolation and poverty.

The book tackles the layers of sociological postmodern identity – language, race, religion, nation and gender – and frames them within the context of young people’s self-narratives. It offers important new insight and understanding of their own stories of identity and allows us to hear these ignored and alienated voices. This makes the book essential reading for those who work with or are concerned about young people – parents, teachers, youth workers, students, academics, policymakers, politicians, journalists. It will interest young people whose roots, ancestry and heritage lie outside the UK. And with Islam dominating the domestic and international news agenda, it is a timely and positive contribution to the often misunderstood notions of what it means to be a British Muslim.

  • Aminul Hoque

    Dr Aminul Hoque, MBE, is a lecturer in Educational Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a visiting lecturer at London Metropolitan University.

CONTENTS: PART ONE: INTRODUCTION; 1. Introduction; 2. The history and settlement of Bangladeshi Muslims in Britain; PART TWO: INTRODUCING THE PARTICIPANTS: 3. The participants; PART THREE: MULTIPLE STORIES: 4. Bengali language and culture: Implications for identity; 5. A question of race: exclusion and ‘second-class citizenship’; 6. The construction of a British-Islamic identity; 7. British-Islamic identity in public spaces; 8. Third generation Bangladeshi girls from Tower Hamlets; PART FOUR: CONCLUSIONS: 9. A way forward for British Islam; References; Index

'This book is a timely and crucial study of British-Islamic identity and the way young (Bangladeshi) Muslims are living their lives despite a politicized Islamism and familiar majority-society hostilities. It should be required reading for every politician, educationalist and indeed every person who wants to live in a sane and civilized society.'

Professor Sally Tomlinson, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Education, University of Oxford

‘This book is an excellent and systematic study of the experiences of third-generation Bangladeshis in the East End of London. It is an important resource that carefully and sensitively goes to the heart of the issues of identity, religion, belonging and citizenship facing a much-beleaguered community. The book will be of significant value to scholars and students of South Asian Muslim minorities in Britain today.’

Tahir Abbas, Professor of Sociology, Fatih University

'A fine ethnographic study of older Bangladeshi teenagers and how they imagine, contest and deploy a British-Islamic identity in ways quite different from their parents and grandparents.Indispensable for teachers, youth workers, academics and policymakers.'

Dr Philip Lewis, Author, 'Young, British and Muslim', Department of Peace Studies, Bradford University