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Ethnicity within Ethnicity’ among the Turkish-Speaking Immigrants in London

This article aims to explore multi-faceted interactions among three segments of the ‘Turkish-speaking’ immigrant community in London, composed of the Turks and the Kurds from Turkey and Turkish Cypriots. Drawing on findings of an extensive anthropological fieldwork, this paper not only documents that these sub-groups co-exist and cooperate with each other creating a sense of collective belonging to Turkish-speaking communities versus the others but also shows frictions and conflicts often occurring about ethnic, political, and ideological issues. As a result, an uneasy symbiosis exists between these sub-groups in London where they find themselves in an awkward position of existing together while not belonging to a unified group which can be described by the notion of ‘ethnicity within ethnicity’.

Ethnicity within Ethnicity among the Turkish-Speaking Immigrants in London
Ethno-political and ideological divisions among the Turkish-speaking immigrants have given rise to certain regionalism in their living space in London.
 

Turkish Cypriots first came to Britain as of the 1920s much earlier than most mainlanders.1 Cyprus was a British colony between 1878 and 1960, and the rate of Turkish Cypriot immigrants increased following the end of British rule, which had been replaced by political turmoil and bloody clashes between the two ethnic communities of the Island. Another extensive flow of migration came after the atrocities following the Greek coup and the subsequent Turkish invasion in 1974. At the end of 1970s, the number of Turkish Cypriots in Britain was recorded as around 40.000.2 This immigration continued until recently. Every year, a couple of thousands are added to the total number, which now appears to have reached a point of satiation. Estimates in the early 2000s suggested that 120.000 out of 250.000 Turkish-speaking immigrants living in Britain were Turkish Cypriots.3Today, according to the Turkish Consulate General in London’s estimate, their number is approximately 130.000. Their numbers have recently been outpaced by the immigrants of Turkish nationality (including students, au pairs and unregistered refugees), whose number is estimated at 150.000.4

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