This volume offers an alternative way of conceiving the history of Britain by excavating and exploring the numerous ways in which South Asians in Britain engaged in radical discourse and political activism from 1858 to 1947, before their more permanent migration and settlement. The book focuses on a tumultuous period of resistance against the backdrop of high imperialism under the reign of Victoria, through the turmoil of two World Wars and Partition in 1947. As well as addressing resistances against empire and hierarchies of race, the authors investigate how South Asians in Britain mobilized to campaign for women's suffrage (the Indian princess Sophia Duleep Singh), for example, or for an international socialism (the Communist MP Shapurji Saklatvala), thereby contributing to and complicating notions of freedom, equality and justice. This volume reframes these pioneers as social and political agents and activists and shows how Britain's contemporary multicultural society is rooted in their mobilization for equality of citizenship.
Rehana Ahmed is Lecturer in English Studies at Teesside University, UK. She specialises in postcolonial literature. Sumita Mukherjee is an historian of South Asia and the British Empire. She is the author of Nationalism, Education and Migrant Identities: The England-Returned (2009).