Penn professor examines the challenges of multicultural citizenship in England

November 14, 2002

PHILADELPHIA -- Unlike the United States, Britain has only recently become a nation of immigrants. The influx of former colonial subjects -- including Sikhs from Punjab in northern India -- has forced the nation to reconsider what it means to be a British citizen.

Kathleen Hall, an anthropologist and associate professor in the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, explores how Britain has responded to the challenges of immigration in her book, "Lives in Translation: Sikh Youth as British Citizens" (University of Pennsylvania Press).

"I tell a different kind of immigration story," Hall said, "one that moves beyond portraying the children of immigrants as simply 'caught between two cultures.'"

Young British Sikhs, through their educational accomplishments, are confronting the boundaries of race and class to become middle-class British citizens. Yet their battles to belong are tied to broader national struggles. In courts of law, in debates about educational policy and in popular culture, the boundaries of national belonging are being redrawn. As they create new ways of being Sikh, Indian and British, these young people are participating in a historic process: the making of a multicultural Britain.

The book is Hall's first, and part of her ongoing interest in education, citizenship and social inequality in ethnically and religiously divided nations.

University of Pennsylvania

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