Imagined Diasporas Among Manchester Muslims

June 2002
22 black and white illustrations
320 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
World Anthropology
James Currey

Imagined Diasporas Among Manchester Muslims

The Public Performance of Pakistani Transnational Identity Politics

Pnina Werbner

Reveals the multi-centred world among Manchester Pakistanis.
The public sphere of the Manchester Muslim diaspora is a place of intense local micro-politics of honour and shame, debated in the globalized language of world affairs, and dramatically enacted through public performance.
Pnina Werbner reveals a multi-centred world among Manchester Pakistanis, a locally created diasporic public space which appropriates and combines travelling ideas and images from a variety of sources into meaningful moral allegories. British South Asian Muslims became visible in the protests mobilized against The Satanic Verses, during which Pakistani immigrants abandoned the role of a silent, well-behaved minority in the public defence of their religious imagination and group honour. In opening up a new realm of activist citizenship politics, the Rushdie affair also provided the opportunity for the Pakistani diaspora to liberate themselves from the intimidation of their own religious extremists. There has since been an efflorescence of cultural and religious societies, festivals and public celebrations of fun and consumption, often with women taking more visible and vocal roles and challenging the hegemony of male elders. Along with a revived loyalty to the Islamic community and its global outposts there is a new struggle for local British citizenship rights, emphasizing multi-culturalism and the recognition and respect of difference.

Series editors: Wendy James & N.J. Allen


... should be required reading for anyone interested in the development of South Asian or other diaspora communities... Werbner's grasp of the complexity of identities, issues of citizenship, and the interplay of local and global affairs, in sustaining local cultures as messy, idiosyncratic and often disunited, lived realities, is superb. - Ron Geaves in ANTHROPOS
The great merit of Pnina Werbner's wonderful contribution to the study of Muslims in Britain is that she continues to do the almost impossible against all these odds. Her work addresses the problem of the limits and possibilities of the anthropological project in these circumstances acutely and admirably... Very important in Werbner's work is that she writes firmly within the anthropological tradition while studying Pakistani immigrants in England. Many studies of immigrants in the West seem to be merely descriptive and meant for policy use only. This is not at all the case with Werbner. Her ethnographic project, sustained over a long period, has been extremely successful and deserves full admiration. ...What Werbner is really good at is the ethnography of Pakistani popular culture in Britain. When one focuses only on local politics and the arenas of ethnic competition one finds mostly male elders, but when one also examines the hugely important popular culture one finds the young men and the women. The young men are involved in the cricket scene and the politics of masculinity connected to that scene. The women are into giving gifts at weddings, the topic of Werbner's (1990) previous book on Manchester Pakistanis. An alternative to the Islamic austerity of the mosque this is the world of fun, invested with images from popular cinema.- Peter van der Veer in ETHNICITIES
The great value of Werbner's that it is reflective and insists on the comparability and mutual map-ability of the imaginations of the analyst and the analysed...will grab the interested reader by the throat until the last page is turned. Werbner shows, we can only understand the limitation of our own viewpoints if we try to understand those of others... - Thomas Acton in JOURNAL OF ETHNIC & MIGRATION STUDIES

Also in Series