Alan Crosby: The growing global family tree

By Guest, 1 October 2015 - 1:47pm

Watching a sneak preview of Anita Rani’s episode of WDYTYA? made Alan realise just how wide-reaching the research of future family historians will need to be

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 1 October 2015
Alan Crosby
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Anita Rani

Who Do You Think You Are? star Anita Rani pictured with her parents as a child. Although Anita's Sikh mother hails from the Indian subcontinent, her Hindu father was born in Yorkshire (Photo: Lakhvir Taggar)

Anita Rani’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? focuses especially on the partition of India in 1947, with the independence of India itself and the violent birth of a new nation, Pakistan.

The terrible events of 1947 were only 68 years ago, more recent than the Second World War, but most of us know so little about them.

Yet for tens of thousands of British people they are of course an integral and traumatic part of family history – for very shortly after the independence of India and Pakistan, migration from South Asia to Britain began in earnest, and the children and grandchildren of people who lived through those times are now British.

Perhaps inevitably, family history and genealogy in this country tends to be centred on the experience of the British Isles and of the people who went from these islands to other parts of the world.

But I’m quite certain that before long we will begin to see a much greater emphasis on those parts of the British Empire (or Commonwealth) from which so many people came to our shores. As more and more people have mixed European and Asian ancestry, so the experience of countries such as India will become ever more relevant to British family history.

It’s happening in my own family – and not just with the countries of the old Empire. My children have second cousins on my wife’s side and also on my side who are half-Peruvian. I have a cousin whose wife is Japanese, another whose husband is of East African/Asian origin.

The family histories of their children will be – indeed are – extraordinarily varied and diverse. In another generation or so, all those ‘ag labs’ will be sharing company with some very different characters from the other side of the world.
 

Alan Crosby lives in Lancashire and is editor of The Local Historian. He is an honorary research fellow at Lancashire and Liverpool universities

 

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