South Asians, 1947 - 2001
By 2001, some sixty years of 'Asian migration' had had a discernible impact on Bristol's cityscape. The 'city of churches', as Bristol was once known, was, by then, home to at least five mosques, four Sikh gurdwaras (temples) and a Hindu temple, most of which were situated in buildings once used for Christian worship. By then, Indian restaurants and Asian corner shops were firmly established as an integral part of the commercial scene. But who precisely constitutes Bristol's 'Asian community'?
The term itself (which actually refers to 'South Asian' or people from the Indian sub-continent) is shorthand for a wide array of peoples, themselves divided by religious allegiance, ethnic origins, language, kinship groups, caste and class. One objective of this chapter is to begin to set out the historical and social context within which 'Asian' migration to Bristol might best be understood. Given its almost exclusive focus on the first generation of migrants, it cannot claim to offer a definitive history of the Bristol Asian community, but hopes to stimulate more work in this area.