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Britain's Anglo-Indians

The Invisibility of Assimilation

Rochelle Almeida

Anglo-Indians form the human legacy created and left behind on the Indian sub-continent by European imperialism. When Independence was achieved from the British Raj in 1947, an exodus numbering an estimated 50,000 emigrated to Great Britain between 1948–62, under the terms of the British Nationality Act of 1948. But sixty odd years after their resettlement in Britain, the “First Wave” Anglo-Indian immigrant community continues to remain obscure among India’s global diaspora.

This book examines and critiques the convoluted routes of adaptation and assimilation employed by immigrant Anglo-Indians in the process of finding their niche within the context of globalization in contemporary multi-cultural Britain. As they progressed from immigrants to settlers, they underwent a cultural metamorphosis. The homogenizing labyrinth of ethnic cultures through which they negotiated their way—Indian, Anglo-Indian, then Anglo-Saxon—effaced difference but created yet another hybrid identity: British Anglo-Indianness.

Through meticulous ethnographic field research conducted amidst the community in Britain over a decade, Rochelle Almeida provides evidence that immigrant Anglo-Indians remain on the cultural periphery despite more than half a century. Indeed, it might be argued that they have attained virtual invisibility—in having created an altogether interesting new amalgamated sub-culture in the UK, this Christian minority has ceased to be counted: both, among South Asia’s diaspora and within mainstream Britain. Through a critical scrutiny of multi-ethnic Anglophone literature and cinema, the modes and methods they employed in seeking integration and the reasons for their near-invisibility in Britain as an immigrant South Asian community are closely examined in this much-needed volume.
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Lexington Books
Pages: 240Size: 6 1/2 x 9 3/8
978-1-4985-4588-4 • Hardback • April 2017 • $100.00 • (£70.00)
978-1-4985-4589-1 • eBook • April 2017 • $95.00 • (£65.00)
Rochelle Almeida teaches South Asian studies at New York University.
Chapter 1: The Impact on Anglo-Indians of the British Nationality Act of 1948: Interpretation, Analysis, Critique
Chapter 2: Immigrants, Refugees, or Both? Migration Theory and the Anglo-Indian Exodus
Chapter 3: Stage One: Competence and Competition
Chapter 4: State Two: Conflict and Clash
Chapter 5: Stage Three: Adjustment and Accommodation
Chapter 6: Stage Four: Assimilation and Integration
As the British Empire in India grew over the centuries, so did the number of Anglo-Indians, despite attempts to legislate against relationships between British men and Indian women. They were officially brought into being as ‘Anglo-Indians’ with the census of 1911; in the years following independence in 1947, many migrated to Britain. But these British Anglo-Indians did not fit dominant racial or ethnic categories, and their presence was quickly forgotten. With meticulous research, Rochelle Almeida has traced the survivors of that remarkable group and talked to them so that their voices can now be heard. She rescues their histories from obscurity, making the intangible Anglo-Indian heritage visible for all her readers. A fascinating work of recovery.
Robert J. C. Young, New York University

Rochelle Almeida has composed a beautifully-researched and deeply sensitive account of a cultural group that has fallen through the cracks of post-colonial cultural studies. The afterlives of empire are many; living through their complexity and ambiguity remains a defining feature of everyday life for Britain's Anglo-Indians, who can now receive the academic attention that they well deserve, thanks to Professor Almeida.
David Ludden, New York University

Rochelle Almeida's volume focusing on 'First Generation' Anglo-Indian immigrants to the UK is wonderfully full of the voices of the people she interviewed and spent time with. Almeida has captured their challenges, decisions, and strategies for succeeding in their new land, producing a work that portrays the spirit and resilience of this almost completely invisible, culturally distinct social group. In the seventieth year after Indian independence from Britain, the time is ripe to take stock of this people who migrated there in such large numbers. Let's hope this will be the first in a series of accounts of the diasporic community in the different parts of the world they have adopted as home.
Robyn Andrews, Massey University

Rochelle Almeida's pioneering study of Britain's immigrant Anglo-Indians combines excellent ethnographic research with attentive textual critique of representations of the community in postcolonial literature. The result is an engrossing book on a minority that has for too long remained ignored in the global South Asian diaspora, but deserves to be better understood.
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, New York University

In this poignant examination of the story of Anglo-Indians and their journey—from being personae non grata to becoming an indispensable part of the vibrant cultural fabric of Great Britain—Rochelle Almeida channels with remarkable rigor and sharp focus the voices and triumphs of a community that was once denied its rightful place in the history of the world, prevailing against the treacherous politics of race and identity.
Shashi Tharoor, Member of Parliament, India

This important new work addresses the near invisibility of a ‘hybrid sub-culture’ so well integrated into Britain as to have all but disappeared from the record. Using a blend of oral interviews, investigative journalism, and critical analysis of creative writing and films, Rochelle Almeida undertakes the daunting challenge of writing a lucid and nuanced account of First Wave Anglo-Indians of mixed racial descent who aimed to register, she argues, as ‘a cultural nonentity’ while maintaining a distinct identity that demands recognition.
Deepika Bahri, Emory University