We are approaching the end of the project, so we thought we would outline some initial thoughts and findings. The data has not yet been analysed so these are very much preliminary snapshots and impressions. They can be summarised as follows:
- Nearly all the young people we spoke to have strong connections to homeland(s) and a strong diasporic identity; nearly all are British and nearly all are second generation born in the UK;
- We found that the role of families in maintaining those connections with other homes/homelands through family stories, gatherings, trips and/or supplementary schools is important but that young people are also influenced by school, friends, the internet and social media;
- Young people appear to have an ability to negotiate belonging to multiple nations (and between religious and national identity) but some also have had experiences of prejudice, Othering, insider/outsider: they are aware of their ‘difference’;
- They overwhelmingly have political opinions, are political (overtly and implicitly) through actions (e.g. attending demonstrations), thoughts (e.g. on political leadership) and more informally (e.g. how they decorate their rooms, how they feel about where they live and what they would like to change);
- However, it is not easy for them to have their voice heard or effect political change even though the majority want their voices to be heard by those in positions of power. This is because they feel they are dismissed because they are young and because there are limited avenues for doing so;
- They value the role of political education and feel that they should be taught about how to be politically active at school/other educational spaces; they acknowledge that this is not a given and that they need to learn how to effect meaningful changes. However, many also understand how being political forms part of their everyday lives;
- Living in the UK, and often having British citizenship, is seen in positive ways, as enabling educational opportunities, political opinions and activism;
- Young people, on the whole, do not trust politicians or the political system and they feel they are not taught how to create change (e.g. at school) in effective ways;
- Young people are trying to use/reclaim space to capitalise on their age, generation, groundedness in Britain and British identity and connections to elsewhere in order to try and make a difference in broad terms (i.e. not just to ‘their’ diaspora);
- We feel that this research shows that expansive notions of diasporic home, homeland and identity are needed which encapsulates belonging to multiple nations;
- There are important differences between the groups in terms of background and context, but the whole point of the project is to see if there are also similarities in terms of how young people talk and feel about politics and political change.
We would like to thank all the young people, parents and members of the three diasporas who gave up their time to speak to us – we are very grateful!