The British Empire was one of the largest empires of all the times. Its power, culture, and traditions stretched all over the world with unbelievable speed. It comprised lots of colonies, dominions, and other territories, which were ruled by the United Kingdom. The end of 1900s was the end of the British Empire. To be more exact, the handover ceremony of 1997 was marked as the end of the British Empire. Nowadays, the United Kingdom is the combination of four great countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The population of this kingdom is quite various.
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The Caucasian population of the United Kingdom is combined with different races coming from Asia’s nations particularly from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Philippines, and many others, which incline with the Buddhists, Catholic and Muslim religion. There also is a large percentage of Africans and American races that visually posses black and white skin colour with their rituals of cultural beliefs, some Europeans, and finally the local British English people that shadow the historical, cultural and ethnical perspectives of the four nations of the kingdom. The colonization that took place during the times of the British Empire has a very significant impact on ethnical and racial division in the United Kingdom.
Immigration is one of the most significant parts in the whole history of the United Kingdom. It is not that easy to trace English roots, as all origins are hidden in a tangled web. It is necessary to underline that immigration happened not only from the British Empire, but also from other European countries. For example, the research of Mason shows that in 1857, there were 27,000 Irish immigrants, 3% of the population (7% in Scotland). (2000, pp. 20). Nowadays, more than 10% of Irish people still leave the country. (2000, pp. 21)
During the times of British Empire colonization, people suffered from ethnic and racial divisions. Such divisions played a very important role on self-identity and cultural connection between nations and separate people. Victimization also influenced considerably the development of relations between countries. So, victimization, racism, and ethnicity are the brightest symptoms of impact of colonization.
It is necessary to admit that during any period of colonization by any empire, those people who invaded usually find enough reasons to justify their actions and call such steps as the necessary ones. They can easily interfere in the lives of other people and change them forever. The British Empire was not an exception. The steps taken by the British Empire could be easily justified, however, the consequences of that colonization can hardly justified nowadays. To explain clearly what the impact of colonization on ethnic and racial division in the United Kingdom was, first, it is necessary to give an explanation to ethnical and racial diversities.
The social construction of ethnicity and races derived from cultural aspects of the nation. In 2002, Eriksen studied the relation between race and ethnicity and offered lots of interesting ideas. He says that “race is a negative term of exclusion, while ethic identity is a term of positive inclusion. However, ethnicity can assume many forms.” (2002, pp. 6) Ethnic classification, either externally imposed or intrinsically engendered, often defines people’s membership to a group. Ethnic uniqueness provides an immediate identity marker both within a group and between the groups. In comparison to racial categorization, ethnic categories often seem varied, though they are fixed and monotonous entities.
Conversely, as ethnicity incorporates ethnical traits, changes in people’s affinity with any of them can occur from time to time. The migration and working force coming from different nation started the exposure of British people to different ethnical and cultural interactions. Black people, who come from Africa and America, have produced a slighted racial conflict issue to the nation and presented an ineluctable product of economic and sexual competition of two mutually exclusive and naturally antagonistic groups of working men as logical scapegoat in the otherwise homogeneous working class and inter racial hostility. (Bloom, 1948)
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The issue of identity, the role of language, the colour of skin, and the origins vary the implication of division of colonialism in the United Kingdom. All this influenced considerably human interactions and working capacity together with their working relationship. Mason tries “to describe diversity without acceding to the idea that difference is a problem.” (2000, pp. 3) Numerous misunderstandings affected people’s way of thinking that leads to various issues and concerns, which caused a conflict of social, cultural, and economic interests. (Bhaba, 1994) As Robert Winder says “We do not always think of Britain as a country settles at a deep level by immigrants. We prefer to construct mythologies of national character as something stable, as a still and virtuous point in an often unruly world.” (2004, pp. 3)
Nowadays, there is still a real danger of institutional racism. (Pilkington 2003) It is one more consequence of colonialism in the United Kingdom. People cannot accept the representatives of other races and nations without a certain kind of prejudice and coldness. The issue of ethnicity will always play a significant role, and numerous researches and experiments cannot change a simple truth that a representative of one race will face lots of misunderstandings in another group of people. It is high time for the Government to think over the programs, which will help to extirpate racial and ethnical problems among the society we live in. Only after careful implementation of the programs, it will be possible to say that the impact of colonization in the United Kingdom has only positive feedbacks. Unfortunately, today, this question is under numerous discussions.
The impact of colonialism on ethnic and racial divisions in the United Kingdom is really great. It plays an important role in the present scenario of English society. Because of numerous migrations and discontents, separate groups of people with their own preferences and interests have been created. Nowadays, such groups develop in different ways. Ethnic and racial division cannot be forgotten. An individual is always a part of the group and needs to work as a part of this group.
The role of the group is to identify and understand the factors, which may lead to the conflicts with other groups. The United Kingdom should work as a united nation in order not to be affected with global relations in social and economic consideration. The awareness of people and the concern of the nation as for the development of human relation and interaction of every individual beyond the concept of ethnical and cultural differences is a significant virtue that will improve man’s capacity and strength for proper existences and living.
Bhaba H. K., 1994, The Location of Culture. London: Routledge.
Bloom, L., 1994, A Study of Racial Relation in English Society. The Journal of British Studies, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 54-98.
Eriksen, T. H., 2002, Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological Perspective. Pluto Press.
Mason, D., 2000, Race & Ethnicity in Modern Britain, Oxford Univ. Pr.
Pilkington, A., 2003, Racial Disadvantage & Ethnic Diversity in Britain. Palgrave.
Winder, R., 2004, Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain. Abacus.