A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain by Nasreen Ali, Virinder S Kalra et al

By Nasreen Ali, Virinder S Kalra et al

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Indeed in the decade after the Holocaust, both the French in Algeria and the British in Kenya (Anderson, 2005) continued and escalated their range of brutal, vicious colonial practices in their efforts to sustain colonial rule against indigenous anticolonial movements. In many ways what was radical about fascism was not its precise meaning, but its dislocation of the Europe/Empire divide: fascism was colonialism re-applied to Europe (Cesaire, 1955; Du Bois, 1947; Mazower, 1999). All of this begs the historical question as to why these resemblances were not sufficient to motivate usage of European colonialism as a concept describing Nazi governmental practices?

The minority status of ethnically marked populations was not simply a symptom of their demographic size, but reflected more closely an (im)balance of forces and resources between ethnically marked and unmarked populations. Historically the European domestication of post-national ethnic minorities has been protracted, often violent and authoritarian. Where domestication was successful it enabled the national majority to more or less absorb its ethnic minorities and produce a more or less unified national majority in which traces of the former ethnic minorities did not resonate significantly either politically, socially or economically.

At the same time, having been systematically exploited during the colonial period, Britain’s ex-colonies faced a future of poverty. They had a large labour force, but insufficient means to make this labour productive (Sivanandan, 1976). Migration of labour from the ex-colonies to the metropolis during the 1950s was thus largely a direct result of the history of colonialism and imperialism of the previous centuries. If once the colonies had been a source of cheap raw materials, now they became a source of cheap labour.

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