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South Asian and Ugandan Asian migration, 1970s

Children standing outside a shop in Birmingham

Overview:

The Modern Records Centre's collections include a range of sources relating to the migration of people from South Asia (and Asian communities in Africa) to Britain, and the experiences of people of South Asian origin in the UK. A small selection of these are identified below, more can be found through our online catalogue.

As all of these documents are in copyright we have been unable to publish the majority of them online, but the originals can be seen at the Modern Records Centre.

Catalogue = This symbol after a link means that it links to catalogue descriptions of the documents (including the reference numbers which will help you to order up the original documents at the MRC).

Digitised = This symbol after a link means that it links to digitised copies of the documents.

Selected sources:

'Here to live: A study of race relations in an English town', [1971]Catalogue

Runnymede Trust pamphlet written by Simon Jenkins. Leamington Spa was the "English town" studied, and the report includes references to South Asian and Irish migration into the town.

'Brown Britons. The crisis of the Ugandan Asians', 1972Catalogue

Runnymede Trust pamphlet written by Justin O'Brien. It includes sections on: 'The numbers involved', 'Why President Amin does not want UK Asians', 'The question of responsibility' and 'What is to be done?', together with text of a speech by President Amin.

'The Ugandan Asian Crisis', 1972Catalogue

Pamphlet produced by the Community and Race Relations Unit of the British Council of Churches, aimed at a general British audience. Includes background information about South Asian migration to Africa, the situation in Uganda, Britain's responsibility and possible consequences.

'Ugandan Asians: the reality of resettlement', 1972Catalogue

Report of a survey published jointly by the International Voluntary Service and Co-ordinating Committee for the Welfare of Evacuees from Uganda.
It includes the results of surveys in the London Boroughs of Camden, Ealing, Brent and Wandsworth, survey of Uganda Asians living in temporary accommodation in the London area, and communications from the Uganda Resettlement Board to local authorities.

'Grass Roots', 1972Catalogue

British Black Power newspaper published by the Black Liberation Front. It includes an article on racism, 'The British Asians' and Uganda.

Anti-racism and race relations: conference papers and other documentation, 1972-1975Catalogue

The majority of the documents relate to the National Conference of Trade Unions Against Racialism, held in Birmingham on 2 June 1973. They include conference papers on the experiences of South Asian workers in industry, including: 'Pakistanis on strike in Nottingham', 'Indian workers, British industry and the trade unions' (Indian Workers' Association), and 'Struggle of black workers at Birmid Qualcast' (Indian Workers' Association).

'Indian Worker', no.1, 1973Catalogue

Journal produced by the Indian Workers' Association. This issue includes articles on Ugandan Asians and a protest march against the immigration laws.

'The struggle at 'Imperial Typewriters'', 1974Catalogue

Pamphlet written and produced by Leicester and Nottingham branches of the International Marxist Group. It reports on a strike in Leicester by predominantly Asian workers, and opposition to the strike by local union leaders and management. Oral history recordings relating to the strike have been made available online as part of a University of Leicester research project.

'Asian immigrants in Oldham', 1974Catalogue

Report on a survey carried out on behalf of the Oldham Community Development Project in the Glodwick area of the town. The year-long survey was undertaken by Kanta Walker, a Community Development Worker originally from the Punjab.

'Saltley News', 1974-1976Catalogue

'Saltley News' was first local Urdu community newspaper in Britain, and was produced in the Saltley area of Birmingham by the local Community Development Project (CDP). The MRC has English language translations of nos.1-17, and copies of four editions in the original Urdu. The government-funded CDP in Birmingham was threatened with closure in 1976 after the city council accused it of "spreading the seeds of Communism" through articles about immigration in 'Saltley News'.

'Girls of Asian origin in Britain', 1975Catalogue

45 page pamphlet by Seetha Crishna. The research project into the experiences of young women between the ages of 16-25 in Southall (London) and Bradford came as a result of the author's work with the National Association of Indian Youth. The report was published by the Young Women's Christian Association.

'Black skins, white schools', Winter 1977Catalogue

Article on education and race published in the magazine 'Libertarian Education' (no.23). It includes a transcript of a "discussion between three 5th year Indian girls [i.e. aged 15/16] and a teacher about the problems of Indian young people growing up in England today".

'People in paper chains', 1977Catalogue

Illustrated report of Birmingham Community Development Project on 'Immigration and the state'. It focuses particularly on migrants from Mirpur, in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The report, based on four years' research and casework, includes information about immigration policy development, nationality, families and dependents, tax allowances and citizenship.

'Housing improvement and the multi-racial community', 1978Catalogue

Report by Alan Barr for Oldham Community Development Project on "resident attitudes to housing improvement", based on a survey of residents in the Glodwick area of Oldham. Comments from residents in response to specific questions about their local area (including on "minority groups") are reproduced in an appendix to the report. Most of the references to 'minority groups' refer to Pakistanis. A similar report from 1976 is also available.

'Blood on the Streets', 1978Catalogue

A 110 page report published by Bethnal Green and Stepney Trades Council on racist attacks in East London against Asian residents, particularly in the Brick Lane area. The illustrated booklet includes a chapter on the role of the media, as well as information about far-right activity in the area and 'case studies' from 1976-8.

'Southall 342: Bulletin of the Defence Committee', 1979Catalogue

On 23 April 1979, a National Front demonstration at Southall Town Hall was met by a large anti-fascist counter-demonstration. Violence between police and protesters followed, one demonstrator - the New Zealand-born teacher Blair Peach - later died of his injuries, and 342 people were charged with public order offences. This bulletin was produced in Southall in support of those who had been arrested, many of whom were activists from the local Asian community.

'Just for Five Years? Reminiscences of Pakistani Senior Citizens in Sheffield', 1990Catalogue

Publication compiled by Mohammed Iqbal, Safuran Ara and Rachael Van Riel. Published as part of Sheffield City Libraries' Write Back Scheme.

Grunwick Remembered, 2007Digitised

The Grunwick dispute was a strike by predominantly South Asian women at the Grunwick film processing plant in Willesden, north-east London, for union recognition and better working conditions. The strike lasted nearly two years, between August 1976 and July 1978, and attracted wider support from the British labour movement. Interviews with participants, including the strike leader Jayaben Desai, were recorded in 2007 and can be watched online.

The MRC holds significant collections relating to the Grunwick dispute - a separate guide to sources is available.