Diversity, Identity and Belonging

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Questions of identity, diversity and senses of belonging have been central to debates about multiculturalism, citizenship and social cohesion. However, there are few studies which specifically examine women’s spaces of sociality and how these have contributed to new formations of identities. Developed from feminist and post-colonial theorisations, and drawing on empirical interview data from a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, this paper explores identities for (primarily) ‘White’ and ‘South Asian’ women through the intersections of gender, ‘race’ and ethnicity with culture, religion and sexuality. It asks what aspects of identities, affiliations, ambivalences or antagonisms are manifested in particular contexts of socialising, and explores how the processes of social identification are played out in informal contexts of socialising. Through a rich source of interviews carried out in London, it demonstrates how postcolonial spaces of sociality in a major international city can be places of intimacy and bonding for women as well as places where ‘difference’ is constructed, enforced, resisted and performed.


Keywords: Identity and Diversity, Belonging, Postcolonial, Sociality, Women
Stream: Identity and Belonging; the Politics of Diversity; Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Diversity, Identity and Belonging


Prof. Sue Jackson

Professor, Faculty of Lifelong Learning
Birbeck, University of London

London, UK

I am Head of School of Continuing Education and Professor of Lifelong Learning and Gender at Birbeck, University of London. My research interests span lifelong learning, gender, social class, and identities. I have recently published two books, "Reconceptualising Lifelong Learning: Feminist interventions" with Dr Penny Burke (Routledge, 2007) and "Challenges and Negotiations for Women in Higher Education, with Dr Pam Cotterill and Professor Gayle Letherby (Springer, 2007). I am principal investigator on a research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the UK, entitled "Intersecting identities: Women’s spaces of sociality in post-colonial London", which forms part of the ESRC's Identities and Social Action Programme.

Ref: D08P0235