Considerable historical attention has been paid to both the end of Empire in Britain’s East African colonies and the consequences of decolonisation for post-colonial states. In contrast, the displacement and, in some cases, the forced migration of minority South Asian populations from the new nation-states of East Africa have been underrepresented within the extant literature. As a result, studies of migrant communities in Britain have tended to treat South Asians as a homogenous group, paying relatively little attention to the specific identity trajectories of transnational migrants.
My research seeks to unpick the history of East African Asian ‘refugee’ communities in order to enhance scholarly understanding of migrant-refugee identity formulations, and to locate these within colonial and post-colonial power relations. By applying a transnational optic, it contributes to a growing body of scholarship that aims to dismantle the territorial state and address the spatiality of ‘citizenship’. This is achieved by first critiquing domestic governance and nationalist narratives, and then by exploring the political baggage of British migrant biographies. In doing so my thesis sets out to inform and complicate contemporary discussions on ‘race’, immigration and racialised governance.