Becoming East and Southeast Asian

Principal Investigator(s): Dr Tamsin Barber

Project start: May 2019

Project finish: May 2021

Funded by: Leverhulme Trust

About us

Due to migration, East and Southeast Asians in Britain are now one of the fastest growing ‘ethnic’ groupings (ONS 2011), with the highest percentage of international students (HESA 2014), yet they remain invisible in both academic and policy debates on citizenship, ‘integration’ and multiculturalism. This project investigates how and why young people in British urban cities are engaging in ‘East and Southeast Asian’ racial and pan-ethnic group-making when recent social surveys suggest that race is losing its significance as a dominant identity (Aspinall and Song 2013).

The aims of this project are to produce new knowledge on the politics of belonging among invisible East Asian youth in Britain. It explores how and why young East and Southeast Asians in the so-called superdiverse cities of London and Birmingham are beginning to socialise and identify racially and pan-ethnically despite findings from recent social surveys suggesting that race and ethnicity are losing significance to other identity attributes such as family and work/study (Aspinall and Song 2013).

This project extends the work of Yeh (2014) and Barber (2015) on the emergence of pan-ethnic racial identities among Chinese and Vietnamese youth to investigate the experience of other East and Southeast Asian (e.g. Filipino, Korean, Malaysian and Japanese) youth who also participate in East and Southeast Asian social spaces. 

More about the project

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Tamsin Barber

Dr Tamsin Barber

Reader in Sociology

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Dr Diana Yeh

Senior Lecturer

City University of London

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