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Identities in the third space? Solidity, elasticity and resilience amongst young British Pakistani Muslims

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(Corresponding author email: g.mythen@liverpool.ac.uk)

Abstract

Over the last decade the issue of identity has been prevalent in discussions about British Muslims, with the events of 9/11 serving as a touchstone for media debates about religious, national and cultural affiliations. The 7/7 terrorist attacks in the UK led to young British Pakistanis being subjected to intense public and institutional scrutiny and wider political concerns being expressed about the failure of multiculturalism. Young British Pakistanis have thus had to negotiate and maintain their identities in an environment in which they have been defined as a threat to national security whilst simultaneously being pressurized to align with ‘core British values’. Within this context, we convey the findings of a qualitative study involving British Pakistanis living in the North-west of England. In presenting the experiences and perspectives of participants, three interconnected processes salient to the maintenance of identity are delineated: solidity, elasticity and resilience. Having unpacked these processes, we draw upon Bhabha's third space thesis to explore the political potentiality of and the limits to hybridic identities.

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