The power to tolerate: contests over Britishness and belonging in East London

Article


Wemyss, G. 2006. The power to tolerate: contests over Britishness and belonging in East London. Patterns of Prejudice. 40 (3), pp. 215-236. https://doi.org/10.1080/00313220600769406
AuthorsWemyss, G.
Abstract

Wemyss investigates the relationship between the politics of belonging and the keyword ‘tolerance’. She challenges the notion that ‘tolerance’ is a positive national aspiration, arguing that tolerance can be best understood as the conditional withholding of force by those at the top of a ‘hierarchy of belonging’. Those high up that hierarchy of belonging have the power to grant or withhold tolerance from those at the bottom. The dominant discourse about Britishness is flexible in determining both who has the power to grant or withdraw tolerance and who is made the subject of that tolerance. Wemyss's arguments are developed from ethnographic research carried out in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets in 1993–4, a period of local political conflict and violence that continues to have national reverberations, and from a discussion of the political context of the 1689 English Toleration Act. To explore how tolerance works in dominant discourses of Britishness, the article focuses on two opinion polls in the local and national press together with letters to a local newspaper. It investigates the construction of a hierarchy of belonging and the challenges to it through analyses of representations of East End history in two weekly local newspapers and of the discourses of local Bengali people.

JournalPatterns of Prejudice
Journal citation40 (3), pp. 215-236
ISSN0031-322X
Year2006
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/00313220600769406
Publication dates
Online06 Aug 2006
Publication process dates
Deposited23 Jan 2024
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