Immigrants, Refugees, or Both? Migration Theory and the Anglo-Indian Exodus to Great Britain

Rochelle Almeida

Abstract


As a settler community in Great Britain that has spent over half a century as part of the international diaspora, Anglo-Indians occupy a unique position. Although the majority made the decision to relocate from India by choice, a few felt pressured by political events on the Indian sub-continent. In this essay, the author Rochelle Almeida, examines the circumstances under which the First Wave of Anglo-Indian settlers arrived in Great Britain. Framing her position around popular theoretical discourse that has shaped migration theory and based on the interviews she conducted in the UK among members of the Anglo-Indian diaspora, Almeida questions whether Anglo-Indians might be categorized and labelled as ‘immigrants’ or ‘refugees’ or indeed as both. She arrives at the conclusion that while a few Anglo-Indians fled India fearing for their lives in the aftermath of Independence, the majority were immigrants in the traditional sense of the term. In having successfully integrated themselves into Britain’s multi-cultural society, Anglo-Indians are a vibrant, if invisible, community with a distinct sub-culture in Britain today.

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