Transience Participation: The Politics of First Generation Pakistani Migrants in the UK (Post-1945)

JVF Conference Papers

Post-1945 migrants to the UK from Pakistan and the Indian subcontinent more widely generally consisted of single men who were seen as, and who saw themselves as, transient economic migrants.

In the early days of migration Pakistani Muslims were reluctant to take part in British politics for four main reasons: first, their interests were still very much in the politics of their home countries – they followed these affairs keenly; second, there was a preoccupation with work; third, they were unfamiliar with the system; and, fourth, there was a myth of return. I argue that family reunification reduced this reluctance. Family reunification signalled an important step in developing a relationship between Pakistani Muslim immigrants and the British political system. As wives and children arrived, there was an increased interaction with the wider institutions of British society, such as the Home Office, for visas, and schools, as children were entered into the educational system. Family reunification signalled the end to the myth of return and it became increasingly clear that the transience of the economic migrants had been replaced by settlement. With this increased interaction came an awareness of the need for political voice.

Family reunification and greater contact with the institutions of British society saw the beginnings of the Muslim political identity and political mobilisations around this Muslim identity started to develop.

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