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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: September ::
Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1717  Tuesday, 14 September 2004

[1]     From:   Himadri Chatterjee <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 12:10:46 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[2]     From:   Arthur Lindley <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 19:40:42 +0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[3]     From:   John Briggs <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 14:11:40 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[4]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 09:15:44 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[5]     From:   David Nicol <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 13:23:07 +0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[6]     From:   Kathy Dent <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 16:09:40 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[7]     From:   Kathleen DiVito <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 09:05:48 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[8]     From:   Wan-Yu Lin <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 17:56:21 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[9]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Monday, 13 Sep 2004 20:03:03 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[10]     From:  Chris Jacobs <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 08:45:16 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

[11]     From:  Kenneth Chan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 12:53:40 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Himadri Chatterjee <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 12:10:46 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

 >Can anyone tell me why Indians called Asians in the
 >UK?  In the U.S.,
 >Asian is reserved for Japanese, Chinese, and
 >Koreans.   Indians are
 >called Indians.  In the UK, this seems to be
 >reversed.  Only Indians are
 >called Asians.
 >
 >Is that right?

Speaking as someone of Indian origin who has lived in the UK now for
nearly 40 years:

The term "Asian" covers not only Indians, but also Pakistanis,
Bangladeshis, and Sri Lankans. Since there is no generic term to cover
everyone originating from the Indian subcontinent, the term "Asian" is
preferred.

However, this term appears, in the UK, not to cover anyone of Chinese,
Korean or Japanese descent, or anyone from Thailand, Singapore, Hong
Kong, etc. This is because there are more people in the UK originating
from the Indian subcontinent than from other parts of Asia.

Regards,
Himadri Chatterjee

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Arthur Lindley <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 19:40:42 +0800
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

There is a very simple answer, Richard: the configuration of the British
Empire in the 19th- and early 20th-Century meant that the Asians the
British encountered most and those who came to Britain in the greatest
numbers were south Asians: Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, to use the
present terms.  In British English, Chinese, Singaporeans et al. are (or
were) commonly referred to as East Asians.  Americans, of course,
encountered primarily Pacific-rim Asians and, I suppose, came to think
of Indians as something else.  That, at least, is my impression as
someone who was born in Hawaii and raised in southern California.

Regards,
Arthur

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Briggs <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 14:11:40 +0100
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

Richard Burt asked (somewhat peculiarly - one hopes that he was
meditating on the "base Indian"/"base Judean" crux in 'Othello'):

 >Can anyone tell me why Indians called Asians in the UK?

The short answer is because India is in Asia.  The long answer is given
later.

 >In the U.S., Asian is reserved for Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans.

This is a somewhat mysterious statement - which would seem to encourage
stereotyped views regarding Americans' knowledge of geography.

 > Indians are called Indians.

This is at least encouraging.  However, as George W. Bush has been known
to refer to Pakistanis as "Pakis", the confidence may be misplaced.

 >In the UK, this seems to be reversed.  Only Indians are
 >called Asians.  Is that right?

No, it is not right.  It is true, however, that the largest number of
British Asians are those whose ethnic origin is the Indian
sub-continent. Those whose origin is Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka
are understandably not happy at being described as "Indian".
Furthermore, many of them object to the use of the term "Indian
sub-continent", so the somewhat misleading term "South Asia" is often
used instead.  In the circumstances, the use of the term "Asian" is
remarkably unproblematic.

John Briggs

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 09:15:44 -0400
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

Re: Indians and Asians

I agree with Richard Burt that the term "Asian" in the US generally
evokes East Asians. But I can attest the existence of an Asian-American
Democratic Party group that includes Indians. I don't think there's a
hard and fast distinction.

--Hugh Grady

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Nicol <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 13:23:07 +0000
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

Richard Burt asks:

 >Can anyone tell me why Indians called Asians in the UK?  In the U.S.,
Asian is reserved for >Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans.   Indians are
called Indians.  In the UK, this seems to be >reversed.  Only Indians
are called Asians.
 >Is that right?

Not quite.

The reason so-called 'Indians' are often called 'Asian' in Britain is
that there are many Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who don't like being
called Indian, for rather obvious historical reasons.

It's not true that people of Japanese, Chinese, or Korean origins are
never called 'Asian' in the UK although you're right that nowadays the
word is more likely to refer to
persons-from-the-Indian-subcontinent-and-its-surrounding-regions; I
think it often includes people from the Middle East as well.

David Nicol

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathy Dent <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 16:09:40 +0100
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

In the UK we have substantial populations of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis
and Sri Lankans who come from the Indian subcontinent: too many of them
would be offended by being lumped together under the general tem
'Indians'.  The majority of Indians are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists; the
majority of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are Moslem, so they tend to feel
their cultural differences quite strongly.

In contrast, although we have a significant Chinese population, there
are comparatively few Japanese, Koreans or Indonesians, so identifying
them all by a single generic term never happened.

Kathy Dent

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kathleen DiVito <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 09:05:48 -0700
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

Is it because Indians are from South Asia, and therefore are Asian, and
because the primary contact that people in the UK have had with any
group from Asia has been with peoples from the Indian subcontinent?
(These are guesses.)

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Wan-Yu Lin <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 17:56:21 +0100
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

As far as I know, Asians in the UK can mean people from India, Pakistan
and Bangladesh.

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Monday, 13 Sep 2004 20:03:03 +0100
Subject: Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are generally referred to as "the
Asian community" in the UK.

I suspect this has something to do with the colonial history.

As you say, the Chinese community is usually referred to as "the Chinese
community".

The UK doesn't have a similarly sizeable Korean or Japanese population,
as far as I am aware.

For the record, I live in London.

m

[10]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Jacobs <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 08:45:16 +0800
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

Dear Richard,

No, it is not correct.

I surmise that to the majority of us Brits, Asia starts somewhere just
to the right of the Middle East but also extends to the left a bit as
one moves the finger up the page, until one gets to those bits referred
to as Eastern Europe, and all the way across the page to the right until
one dips the digit into the Pacific Ocean.

As a Brit, albeit one who has lived and worked in various parts of
'Asia', predominantly South East Asia, for the last twenty years or so,
I can assure you that even the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, et al, are
referred to as 'Asians', and not just those fascinating folk from India.

Kindly
Christopher Jacobs

[11]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kenneth Chan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Sep 2004 12:53:40 +0800
Subject: 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1705 Why Are Indians Called Asians In The UK?

If I understand correctly, Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans are not called
"Asians" in the UK because they are considered there as "Orientals."

Regards
Kenneth Chan

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