Dr Victoria Redclift
Victoria Redclift's research interests are in the sociology of migration and citizenship with particular focus on 'race', ethnicity andinequality. After an MSc in Social Policy and Development Studies from LSE (for which she was awarded the Richard Titmuss prize for outstanding performance), she won the LSEs first four year Bonnart-Bruanthal PhD scholarship in the Department of Sociology. Her work pays particular attention to spatial formations of political exclusion, histories of displacement and the formation of diaspora, and the negotiation of local and global 'political space'. She worked at the LSE and the University of Manchester before joining Surrey in 2013.
Her research interests lie primarily in the following areas:
- Citizenship and political identity
- Intersections of 'race', class and gender in the reproduction of political exclusion
- Diaspora and transnationalism
- 'Intra-minority' identity and 'hidden minorities'
Through a BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (SG121376 - April 2013 to April 2015), Victoria has spent the past two years conducting research into the historical legacy of conflict in the formation of identities and relations among South Asian Muslims in the UK and the US. Tracing the stories of North Indian 'Bihari' Muslims who fled East Bengal as a result of the Liberation War in 1971, establishing themselves in various cities across the UK and North America, the research considered how 'intra-minority' relations interrogate Muslim identities in different diasporic contexts.Findings revealed that on arrival in the UK and the US the vast majority of North Indian 'Urdu-speakers' assimilated into the Pakistani diaspora, but the salience of 'Bihari' identities were significantly informed by the political contexts and demographic characteristics of the urban neighbourhoods in which they settled (Redclift, 2013c). Their stories uncovered 'latent' identities and multiple affiliations that help us to unpick the dyadic relations of 'home' and 'away' at the heart of essentialist conceptualisations of the diaspora concept (Redclift, forthcoming). They highlight not only the contingent nature of history and memory but the impact of both on the production of identity and the formation of community. The project expands growing interest in 'hidden minorities', as well as in relations between and within minorities, bringing historicity and spatiality to bear on our understanding of South Asian communities in the West.
Victoria was recently awarded an ESRC Future Research Leaders Grant for a new project on 'Transnational Practices in Local Settings: Experiences of citizenship among Bangladesh-origin Muslims in London and Birmingham'(ES/N000986/1 - April 2016 - October 2018). This will complement her Phillip Leverhulme Prize project 'From Brick Lane to Little Bangladesh:Transnational Political Space in London and Los Angeles' (PLP-2014-221 -October 2015 to October 2018). The research takes the form of a trifocal study into experiences of citizenship among Bangladesh-origin Muslims in London, Birmingham and Los Angeles, developing the concept of 'transnational political space' in order to better understand the impact of receiving society conditions on transnational identities and relations.
The concept of 'transnational political space' interrogates the dichotomy between international and domestic spaces of political engagement to consider the degree to which the formulation of identities and relations in countries of settlement contributes to the creation of new forms of political subjectivity in countries of origin, and vice versa. Revivalist Islam is thought to be growing among Bangladeshi communities in both the US and the UK and the project considers how different histories of urban settlement, different population profiles and different local conditions/constraints affect the ethnic and religious identities chosen and political identities possible in this new setting. The international comparative analysis helps capture the dynamic interactions of history and space in the shaping of political identity, and develops my work on the extent to which gender, generation, class and space inform or challenge ethnic, national and religious solidarities (Redclift, 2013a; 2013b; 2015).
Victoria is on the International Editorial Boards for 'Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power' and 'Ethnic and Racial Studies'.
She was recently appointed as a Trustee of the Bonnart Braunthal Trust into the study of racial, religious and cultural intolerance. She is also on the Runnymede Trust Academic Forum.
Cultures of 'race' and racism
Crime, ethnicity and racism
British Sociological Association (BSA)
European Sociological Association (ESA)
Association of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN)
British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS)
Unpicking Agamben's distinction between 'political beings' and 'bare life', the book considers experiences of citizenship through the camp as a social form. The camps of Bangladesh do not function as bounded physical or conceptual spaces in which denationalized groups are altogether divorced from the polity. Instead, citizenship is claimed at the level of everyday life, as the moments in which formal status is transgressed. Moreover, once in possession of 'formal status' internal borders within the nation-state render 'rights-bearing citizens' effectively 'stateless', and the experience of 'citizens' is very often equally uneven. While 'statelessness' may function as a cold instrument of exclusion, certainly, it is neither fixed nor static; just as citizenship is neither as stable nor benign as the dichotomy would suggest. Using these insights, the book develops the concept of 'political space' - an analysis of the way history and space inform the identities and political subjectivity available to people. In doing so, it provides an analytic approach of relevance to wider problems of displacement, citizenship and ethnic relations.
among the ?Urdu-speaking linguistic minority? in Bangladesh, addressing three
key areas of debate. Firstly, it explores the relationship between the material
institution of citizenship and conditions of (physical) integration/segregation.
Secondly, it attempts to unpick the intimate connection between that material
institution and the ethnic and national identities of individuals. Finally, it investigates
a dissonance discovered between the bureaucratic state recognition of citizenship
and imaginations of that status among interviewees, the ?identities of citizenship?
occupied at the local level. The paper demonstrates the significance of subject
positionality, economies of power and the ?dialogic? nature of ethnic identity
formation, and discusses the complex emotional ordering of belonging they
Ongoing research in Bangladesh into the ?Urdu-speaking Bihari? minority explores the role of space and settlement in the formation of Diasporic identity. Research finds a community that conceive of themselves as a unit of collective membership, but one with very little to unite around. A community divided along cultural, political, linguistic, generational and socio-economic lines.
Of the estimated 1.3 million Urdu-speaking Muslims that migrated to Pakistan following the country?s creation in 1947 more than one million migrated to the region of East Bengal in present day Bangladesh.1 Only 300,000 are thought to remain, 160,000 of whom have been living in temporary ?camps? set up by the ICRC since the War of Liberation in 1971. The remaining 140,000 live outside the camps, integrated, to varying degrees, within majority Bengali society.
As a linguistic community they do not speak a common language. As a cultural community they practice ?culture? in different ways. As a social community the divisions of class, money, opportunity and status are deeply felt. As a political community they are without a common political identity or equal access to political participation. As a Diaspora they do not share a sense of home.
Through the experience of space, settlement and segregation this paper analyses the role of culture, politics, language, generation and class in dividing and uniting Diasporic groups, and questions the significance of a sense of ?home? in understandings of the term.
ways in which ?Muslims? as a social category
are imagined in popular, policy and even some
academic circles. The title ?New Muslims?
indexes both this conceptual shift and the
changing contours of ?the Muslim community?
in 21st-century Britain. It argues for renewed
assessments of Muslims in Britain today ? beyond the discourses of securitization, segregation or sharia law ? to recognize the multidimensionality of Muslim lives and their place within a broader struggle for equality, citizenship and social justice.
This collection emerged from a workshop on ?The New
Muslims? and a panel on ?The Muslim Question? held at
University of Manchester in 2013. The event was funded
as part of the ESRC project ?Revisiting the Asian Gang:
Continuity, Change and Transformation? (Award No.
ES/1032274/1). We are grateful to the ESRC and the
Department of Sociology at Manchester for supporting both the event and this publication.
The camps themselves represent a liminal space, ?between and betwixt? recognised points of cultural classification.3 Originally constructed as transitory shelters en route to an imagined home (?Pakistan?), forty years on they represent something quite different.
Through the experience of space, settlement and segregation, this paper questions the significance of a sense of ?home? in understandings of ?diasporic identity? and reveals that instead of a transition between homes, these spaces can be understood as liminal homelands in themselves. The camp has become both a collective identity, and the spatial and symbolic site for a re-constructed belonging. Does the resolution of liminality therefore, as assumed by anthropological theory,4 remain elusive?