Wiltshire is by no means the first area that comes to mind when discussing migrant communities in Britain. Acting as a gateway to the West Country, it is a county comprised of historic market towns, picturesque villages and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is renowned for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site, Salisbury Plain and Cathedral, the Kennet and Avon Canal, Silbury Hill and the Marlborough Downs. Its rolling green hills are pebble-dashed with crop circles, Neolithic long barrows, a plethora of historic houses and gardens, walking
This book is the first comprehensive study of Muslim migrant integration in rural Britain across the post-1960s period. It uses the county of Wiltshire as a case study, and assesses both local authority policies and strategies, and Muslim communities’ personal experiences of migration and integration. It draws upon previously unexplored archival material and oral histories, and addresses a range of topics and themes, including entrepreneurship, housing, education, multiculturalism, social cohesion, and religious identities, needs and practices. It challenges the long-held assumption that local authorities in more rural areas have been inactive, and even disinterested, in devising and implementing migration, integration and diversity policies, and it sheds light on small and dispersed Muslim communities that have traditionally been written out of Britain’s immigration history. It reveals what is a clear, and often complex, relationship between rurality and integration, and shows how both local authority policies and Muslim migrants’ experiences have long been rooted in, and shaped by, their rural settings and the prevalence of small ethnic minority communities and Muslim populations in particular. The study’s findings and conclusions build upon research on migration and integration at the rural level, as well as local-level migrant policies, experiences and integration, and uncover what has long been a rural dimension to Muslim integration in Britain.
Race relations, multiculturalism and integration, 1976 to the late 1990s
multiculturalism developed against a backdrop of restrictive immigration policies, an ever-increasing diversification of migrant communities due to family reunification and the emergence of a British-born generation, and the persistent shift in the construction of difference from a focus on ‘race’ to ‘ethnicity’ to ‘faith’.
This chapter focuses on local government policy in Wiltshire from the immediate aftermath of the passing of the Race Relations Act 1976 to the late 1990s. It charts an increase and diversification in the county’s immigrant, integration and diversity
Anti-racism, equal opportunities, community cohesion and religious identity in a rural space, 1999 onwards
local government policies and measures in Wiltshire and it focuses on the county’s local political approach to immigration, integration and diversity since the turn of the twenty-first century. It traces changes and continuities as Wiltshire’s local administration once again balanced national-level directive and mandate with local circumstances and particularism. As was the case during previous decades, local authorities were once again counted on to play an important role in delivering national-level policy. The 2001 Cantle Report requested that they ‘prepare a local
disregarded or lost to history as they do not feature in written sources. 4 Indeed, Paul Thompson’s argument that oral history’s ability to focus on ‘the under-classes, the unprivileged, and the defeated’ leads to both ‘a much fairer trial’ and ‘a more realistic and fair reconstruction of the past’ has most certainly struck a chord with migration historians. 5
This chapter draws upon oral history interviews conducted with members of Wiltshire’s Muslim migrant communities. Through the interviews, migrants’ narratives and histories, and thus the ‘human’ side of the
tackle discrimination and promote integration. Whether they were genuine well-meaning attempts to counter racial discrimination, or simply seen as a means to combat the social problems that black immigration was often linked to, they were central to Britain’s distinct race relations framework that prevailed well into the 1980s. 2
This chapter discusses local government policy in Wiltshire between the early 1960s and the implementation of the Race Relations Act 1976, which marked a key turning point in the county’s immigrant, integration and diversity policies and
, and the experiences of, certain segments of Britain’s rural populations, for example women, youth and the homeless. 10 Regarding the academic sphere, whilst much work has been done since Chris Philo’s 1992 claim that Britain was characterised by what he coined ‘neglected rural geographies’, 11 rural space nevertheless remains overlooked in comparison to urban settings across a range of disciplines and areas of research.
This chapter places the integration of Muslim migrant communities in post-1960s Wiltshire within this context of rural Britain. It builds upon
Muslim integration, the rural dimension and research implications
Wiltshire is in many ways a quintessential English rural county. Known as a county of ‘chalk and cheese’, which refers to its rolling chalk downlands and pasture dairy land, its history is comprised of agriculture, farming, the wool trade and light industries. Its market towns and villages are framed by a wealth of ancient landmarks, hills, valleys, and stately homes, a rural landscape that Sarah Neal and Julian Agyeman have invoked as representing ‘the sensuous appeal of the English countryside’. 1 Indeed, the county has gradually come to be associated with
Dorset than in Wiltshire. Its
author W.B. Wildman had clearly been following Bowker’s campaign closely,
since his rather venomous pamphlet attacked both the initial report of
Winchester’s plans for the Alfred Millenary (published in The Times the
previous November) and also Besant’s speech in Winchester.11 Some grumbling about Winchester’s monopolisation of the event was clearly still current
the following year, when the Right Hon. G. Shaw-Lefevre spoke at a planning meeting for the Alfred Millenary, claiming, with a generous dose of
gearing up for the census boycott in four local centres:
Cheltenham and Bath, rural Wiltshire and of course Bristol.
Cheltenham excelled itself. A new WSPU organizer had arrived. Ada
Flatman, keen to book star speakers, did of course secure Evelyn Sharp, and
also Emmeline Pankhurst. Emmeline’s meeting in Cheltenham’s Town Hall
attracted record crowds, while a ‘large and fashionable’ audience gathered to
listen to Lady Constance Lytton. A Cheltenham woman had even written a new
play, a one-act comedy, How Cranford became Militant and Boycotted the Census,