Inproduction - Photography Collective

Parallel Lives

The concept of ‘Parallel Lives’ is where two ethnic communities live side by side in a town or place yet partake in little social interaction. In towns like Oldham, in the North-England, this has lead to poor integration and high levels of community tensions between the perceived indigenous British population and the Asian communities. This long-term project explores these issues in Oldham by demonstrating the cultural divide, that has recently been exposed as UK wide after the Brexit vote, through the stories of residents living in some the area’s most deprived communities.

Oldham is a post industrial town near Manchester which was named as ‘Britain’s most deprived town’ in 2016. Living parallel to a predominantly British working class population, a large community of Asian and British-Asian people has developed after their ascendents arrived to work in the cotton mills, which have now all closed.

The Asian and British-Asian community, who are predominantly Pakistani and Bangladeshi, emigrated to Oldham in the 60s. They moved and were located into the same areas as their families and friends which over time caused residential districts in Oldham to be only resided in by one of the ethnic groups. With little space for social interaction as well as racism and mis-trust between the communities, tensions have developed over time with community integration proving difficult. Fifteen years after the infamous Oldham riots the Brexit vote exposed a cultural divide in Britain however the residents of Oldham have known this divide for decades.

author: David Shaw