British “Asian” subcultures

I was talking the other day with my cousin who goes to university in northwest England. He expressed his irritation that people always perceived that he was Muslim, though with the name he sports I can’t blame others too much. I discussed with him some of the perceptions expressed on this weblog, that atheism was very rare among British Pakistanis, but rather more common among Bangladeshis. He agreed with that assessment. He met other Bangladeshi atheists, and plenty of Indians, but no Pakistanis. One aspect which I suspect grates at him is that it is not uncommon for many Muslims to carouse in their youth, so his drinking and conventional dating habits do not mark him as necessarily the non-Muslim that he is. Islam therefore is an identity into which you are born, not a set of beliefs you espouse.

But the youthful hypocrites who engage in behavior relatively indistinguishable from the typical British yob nevertheless notionally hold to Muslim orthopraxy as an ideal, and identify strongly with “team Islam.” This politicization of identity is the main problem for my cousin, because brown and non-brown alike presume his sympathies must be with his social-political team. But, as a non-Sylheti Bangladeshi Briton he is already twice-marginal when it comes to the “Asian Muslim” identity. Additionally, he also identifies most strongly in his politics with the conventional Leftism of Old Labor, combined with a mainstream social liberalism identical to other young British people (e.g., he argues for gay marriage to his Muslim parents). But these significant and substantive beliefs and ideas are subsumed by the exterior perception that he is a Muslim, with Muslim priorities and preconceptions defined in large part by the Mirpuri subculture of northern England.

Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, USA, attitudes

Some responses culled from WVS. Some of these are giving extreme views with a 1 to 10 category, explaining low proportions. They’re all from wave 4, which was around the year 2000.

Bangladesh India Pakistan USA
Family very important 97 93 93 95
Politics very important 20 19 5 16
Work very important 92 78 61 54
Religion very important 88 57 82 57
Would not like neighbors of different race 72 42 7 8
Would not like homosexuals as neighbors 95 71 100 77
Would not like people of a different religion as neighbors 34 60 8.4
Total satisfied with life (10 out of 10 on scale) 10 10 0 16
Men have more right to jobs than women 68 57 67 10
Natives have more rights to jobs 92 85 57 49
% who say 2 children “ideal” 80 60 33 28
% who say 4 or more ideal 1 10 25 17
God very important (10 out of 10 on scale) 94 100 58
A religious person 97 80 91 83
Believe in God 99.5 95 100 95
Religious institutions give answers to moral problems 62 33 62 58
Agree strongly that politicians who don’t believe in God unfit for office 32 19 82 18
Justifiable to claim gov. benefits unethically 2 8 0 2
Justifiable to avoid paying fair 1 6 0 1
Homosexual justifiable 0 18 0 14
Abortion always justifiable 1 11 0 8

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Brown people and personal genomics

Here’s the run down before the first batch of results come out for HAP:

Punjab: 7
Tamil: 4
Iran: 3
Bengal: 2
Andhra Pradesh: 2
Bihar: 1
Anglo-Indian: 1
Roma: 1
Karnataka: 1
Kashmir: 1

Again, vast swaths of the center-north are missing. The lack of Gujaratis isn’t as problematic because the HapMap has them. The HGDP has Pakistani populations, though Zach L. will be gratified that Zack A. is finally doing some more work on Punabis as a whole (not farmers from a particular community). The SVGP has 80 Singapore Indians, who are presumably going to be mostly Tamil. Behar et al. has two low caste groups from Kerala and Tamil Nadu respectively, as well as another group from northern Karnataka which is not specified (as well as Kerala Jewish samples). Finally, the Xing et al. data set has several South Indian groups, as well as Punjabi Arain. Unfortunately due to its peculiar SNP coverage it doesn’t intersect much with the other samples, so it won’t be used much. But note: the massive undersampling of the center-north and eastern India in all of these public data sets. Additionally, it being South Asia, geographic coverage is probably not enough. There is almost certainly a great deal of genetic difference between a tribe in Kerala and the Nasranis.

So here’s the link to 23andMe. It will cost you $260 over the whole year.

Harappa Ancestry Project, t-minus one day

Zack is going to post the first batch of results from HAP tomorrow. It looks like he’s going to be using mostly the merged HGDP, HapMap, SVGP, and Behar data set, supplemented by a second set which also merges the Xing et al. sample (the intersection of Xing et al. with the other results is a much smaller number of SNPs, but, it includes a better coverage of various South Asian groups). He’ll initially be posting ADMIXTURE estimates as you’ve seen on Dodecad. I’m especially interested in the Anglo-Indian and Roma individuals which have sent Zack their samples. I don’t know of any genomic investigation of the former community, while the published research on Roma genetics doesn’t include SNP-chip results (usually they’re mtDNA, Y, or only a few autosomal markers). I’d be curious for possible evidence of homozygosity or linkage disequilibrium in the Roma individual due to the population bottlenecks which other studies have detected (I assume that’ll be in the future). The Roma are to a good approximation an admixture of India, West Asia, and European (often Balkan) groups, but, their history of endogamy and …

What do the people think?

With all the geopolitical tumult and news I was a bit curious to see what The World Values Survey could tell us about public opinion in Egypt and Tunisia. Unfortunately, Tunisia hasn’t been in any of their surveys, though Egypt has. So I thought it might be interesting to compare the USA, Sweden, Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq, for wave 5, which occurred in the mid-2000s. The main thing I took away from the exercise is to reflect that Americans are a more equivocal people than I had expected. Many of the questions have a 1 to 10 scale, and I’m providing the most extreme answers. So the low fractions for Americans for some questions point to a relative moderation on some topics…which is kind of weird when you are asking whether “People choosing their leaders is an essential characteristic of democracy.” Since that’s the definition of democracy broadly construed anything below a 10 out of 10 seems strange to me.

(Control + should increase font-size if it is too small)


Religion “very important”

Politics “very important”

Family life “very important”

Most people can be trusted

Satisfied with life (10 out of 10)

Great deal of control of life (10 out of 10)

Men have more …

Around the Web – January 31st, 2011

The first month of 2011 is almost over….

Exiled Islamist Leader Returns to Tunisia. “…while Ennahdha was branded an Islamic terrorist group by Ben Ali, it is considered moderate by scholars.” I remember talking to a gay friend after 9/11 about Islam, and he began to repeat the pablum about how most Muslims were moderate and tolerant. I had to disabuse him of the notion that they would be as tolerant of him as the Christians at the local Congregationalist church. One can be moderate, but if the scale is set at one end of the broader distribution, that moderation can be quite extreme from the vantage point of an outsider. So a recent survey of British Muslims found that 0 out of 500 would accede to the position that homosexuality was morally acceptable. Certainly within the set of 500 there were many moderates on the issue, but the center of the distribution would probably not be what we’d consider “gay-friendly” (it might in fact be tolerance in a more pre-modern sense, where the majority suffers that the minority may exist, so long as they do not become undue burdens or flout public mores).

Selection is random. I don’t …

“Asian” in all the right places

mtDNA haplogroup G1a2

The pith: In this post I examine the most recent results from 23andMe for my family in the context of familial and regional (Bengal) history. I also use these results to offer up a framework for the ethnognesis of the eastern Bengali people within the last 1,000 years, and their relationship to other South Asian and Southeast Asian populations.

Since I received my 23andMe results last May I’ve been blogging about it a fair amount. In a recent post I inferred that perhaps I had a recent ancestor who was an ethnic Burman or some related group. My reasoning was that this explained a pattern of elevated matches on chromosomal segments with populations from southwest China in the HGDP data set. But now we have more than my genome to go on. This week I got the first V3 chip results from a sibling. And finally, yesterday the results from my parents came in. One thing that I immediately found interesting was my father’s mtDNA haplogroup assignment, G1a2. This came from his maternal grandmother, and as you can see it has a distribution which …

Friday Fluff – January 28th, 2011


1) First, a post from the past: Theological incorrectness – when people behave how they shouldn’t….sort of .

2) Weird search query of the week: “khoikhoi woman in porn.” I had a suspicion I knew who entered this search query, but it came from Kumasi, Ghana. So unless a certain someone is doing fieldwork, I guess not.

3) Comment of the week, in response to Portlandia:

Razib, is this post locally grown? And I know it’s organic but is it *certified* organic?

4) And finally, your weekly fluff fix: