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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This conceptualisation of racism as exceptionalist ideology had global ramifications. It privileged the understanding of racism as an issue of national domestic policy. In other words, the critique of racism addresses the problematic of the regulation of ethnically marked ‘minorities’. The operating theatre of racism became the nation-space, hence the speed with which issues of immigration become racialised, problematised and contested. The conceptual containing of racism within the nation-state-space meant that those subject to racism have always had limited options, since they could not outflank the racial order by evoking transnational/diasporic alliances; the sovereign primacy of the Western plutocratic nation state prevents such challenges to the global racial order.

Here coloniality is not understood so much in terms of material exploitation or political subordination, though these are conditions of its existence, but as an unaccountable organised structure of authoritative knowledge exerted over the formerly colonised and their descendents. The sense of coloniality used depicts forms of power/knowledge that describe Western projects of mastering and regulating the ‘non-European’ world and communities comprising people of colour in terms of Eurocentric knowledges, representations and administrations.

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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