This thesis examines how hybrid cultures develop in urban spaces, and it focuses on the South-Asian diaspora in London. Second generation immigrants often find themselves placed between two very different cultures, and they have a unique way of adapting and forming new types of identities. Some of these subcultures subsequently become part of British mainstream society, and new ways of being British emerge.
This is precisely the situation portrayed in Londonstani (2006) by Gautam Malkani. The novel is the story of teenager Jas, who, together with Amit and Ravi, is part of hard hitting Hardjit’s gang or “crew.” Set in Hounslow, London, sometime after September 11, these rudeboy “desis” are attempting to remove themselves from mainstream culture and are instead creating their own “cut-and-paste identities” where they mix and match from various cultural influences, from American hip-hop culture to Bollywood movies and Bhangra music.
Chapter two explores how the term hybridity is defined and applied in post-colonial theory, and looks at differences in use between hybridity in colonial settings contra hybridity in post-independence settings, particularly in the metropolitan immigrant setting.
The third chapter examines the hybrid culture of Londonstani, and looks at some of the challenges immigrants have faced in Britain, and how these have changed over the last decades. The argument is that there is a major difference between how first generation immigrants and subsequent generations relate to their ethnic identity, and this will be investigated further.
Chapter four looks at the hybrid vernacular language in Londonstani. The novel is written in the “desi” jargon, and the author has put a lot of effort into making it recognizable and seem authentic. Special emphasis will be placed on analysis of the dialogue to discover where the different influences are from, and also examine the reasons for writing in a hybrid form of English.