Parallel lives? Challenging discourses of British Muslim self-segregation
The urban disturbances in Bradford, Oldham, and Burnley in 2001 served to underline the contested meanings of black and minority ethnic residential segregation in Britain. Official reports into the disturbances highlighted the depth of ethnic divisions in these northern cities, where, it was contended, British Asian and white people are living ?a series of parallel lives?. Central to this assertion is the claim that people of South Asian origin, particularly British Muslims, are failing to be active citizens by withdrawing from interactions with wider British society. This paper examines the discourses surrounding charges of British Muslim isolationism and self-segregation, which have been closely linked to the persistence of inner-city ethnic clustering. The arguments draw on in-depth research with people of Pakistani/Kashmiri and Bangladeshi origin in Bradford and connect to debates about Britishness, whiteness. and the Western portrayal of British Muslims as Other. The findings give voice to British Muslims, enabling us to examine critically the processes involved in the racialisation of space and to challenge the view that British Muslims wish to live separately from others and disengage from British society.