Dr Tamsin Barber, senior lecturer in Sociology, has been successful in receiving a grant from the British Academy for her project: Becoming East Asian: Race, Ethnicity and Youth Politics of Belonging in Superdiverse Britain (with Dr. Diana Yeh, City University, London).
Tamsin’s research project examines emerging East Asian youth identities and social spaces in urban Britain to investigate the changing significance of race and ethnicity in superdiverse contexts (a mix of ethnic and migrant minorities).
The concept of superdiversity has become widely adopted to describe and analyse the ordinary multiculture of everyday urban life in the context of new migrations, but it has been criticised for neglecting issues of power, inequality, exclusion and racism . Her project addresses these absences by examining the significance of race and racism for invisible minorities.
Due to migration, East Asians in Britain are now one of the fastest growing ‘ethnic’ groupings, with the highest percentage of international students; yet they remain invisible in both academic and policy debates on citizenship, integration and multiculturalism. This project investigates how and why young people in London and Birmingham are engaging in racial and pan-ethnic ‘Oriental’ group-making when recent social surveys suggest that race is losing its significance as a dominant identity.
The research will be divided between London and Birmingham, two cities with significant East Asian populations, to allow for a comparative analysis. The research team will conduct in-depth interviews with young Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Korean and Malaysian men and women who use East Asian social spaces, such as events aimed specifically at East Asian youth as well as research on social networking sites.It will provide rich multifaceted data to show how and why young people are ‘becoming East Asian’, as they negotiate the politics of belonging in superdiverse Britain.
Her work will contribute to debates on how political mobilization and belonging are changing under superdiversity, and lead to a research agenda on emerging East Asian youth politics in Britain whilst contributing significant new knowledge on the hitherto ‘uncharted territories’ of invisible youth, who until the 2011 Census were classified as a subcategory of ‘Chinese’, as ‘Chinese: Other’.
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