While I was browsing the Independent today , I noticed for the first time, a link to a section called Minority Report – a blog by one Jerome Taylor, on the stories affecting minority groups in Britain that are often missed by the mainstream media. I’ve already found good stuff there relating to immigration, integration, racism, etc…and interesting dicussions in the comments.

For example, I’ve found a new book for my reading list, Bloody Foreigners: The story of immigration to Britain. Taylor says “it immediately got me thinking about how false the idea that ‘there will always be an England’ really is.” I’m quite interested in histories that deconstruct our taken-for-granted notions of nationality, it reminded me of this quote, from Alan Dowty, in Jonathan Moses’s book International Migration, asking us to imagine the political map 1000 years ago:

There were no Germans in Berlin, no Russians in Moscow, and few Turks in what is now Turkey. Spain was mostly Moslem, the Southern Ukraine was inhabited by Turksih tribes, and most Bulgarians lived in Central Asia. There were no Thais in Bangkok or Malays in Singapore, and most of present-day Vietnam was occupied by the ancestors of today’s Cambodia. In Africa, Bantu-speaking peoples, who now occupy most of Sub-Saharan Africa, were still confined to the center, and the east coast of the continent. Most strikingly of course, the New World was inhabited only by Native Americans.

For most of human history, these porous and changing boundaries were the norm, until the rise of the nation-state as an organizing principle. And as may authors are pointing out these days, there’s no reason to believe that that model will last forever, and that nothing new will take it’s place.

I was also pleased to find a link on this blog to a story I had seen, and wanted to blog about but then lost, about Shetland islanders rallying to the defense of a family facing deportation. The woman was facing deportation, with her sons, back to Burma, where a brutally oppressive regime rules, against which she had spoken out. “Almost 7,000 islanders, a third of the population of Shetland, signed a petition calling for the family to be allowed to stay in Scotland.” Awwwww…..makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.