Oral history of British science

Sardar, Ziauddin (1 of 8).  Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum

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  • Subjects

    Science and Religion

  • Recording date

    2016-10-13, 2016-10-14, 2016-11-08, 2016-11-15

  • Interviewees

    Sardar, Ziauddin, 1951- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: [Session one: 13th October 2016] Ziauddin Sardar born in Bahawalpur, Pakistan on October 31st, 1951. Story of uncertainty concerning exact date of birth. [2:45] Story of life of father, including birth in Bhopal in India, engineering degree, interest in poetry and drama, migration to Pakistan, work here in biscuit factory in Sahiwal (then named Montgomery), reasons for migration to the UK in 1958. [5:14] Stories of memories of childhood in Pakistan before 1958, including detailed story of relations with maternal 'grandfather' (actually maternal grandfather's older brother) who was an Islamic doctor ('Hakim'). Detailed story of discussions about merits of the traditional and the modern between self and maternal grandfather following own return to Pakistan in 1977 (after 16 years in the UK). [23:39] Discussion of discourse between self and maternal 'grandfather' concerning tradition and modernity. [25:21] Story of life of mother including birth in India, relative poverty of background, loss of family members in period of migration following partition, interest in Urdu poetry and Bollywood films (related story of own role following migration to UK - to Hackney in London - in buying halal meat on Saturdays and taking mother and others to cinema showing Bollywood films on Sundays). [28:30] Comments on tendency for parents not to talk about their childhoods, with detailed story concerning introduction of surname Sardar to own family (connected to paternal grandfather's service as doctor in British Army supported by own research guided by photograph). [34:12] Comments on time spent with parents (and extended family) in Pakistan before migration to UK in 1961 with focus on Friday evening poetry recitals; strength of poetry at all levels of Pakistani culture. [39:23] Comments on memory of way in which prospect of migration to UK was presented to self in the early 1960s, with related comments on family connections (through paternal grandfather) with Lord and Lady Birdwood. Mentions books sent to self from the UK by father during late 1950s. Story of change in father's optimistic view of UK in period 1958-1961 due to experience of racism and discrimination. Comments on father's work in Ford car factory, Dagenham and mother's work in Matchbook toy car factory; own experience of UK including contraction of rheumatic fever, playing of cricket, enrolment in Brookhouse Secondary School [BS]. Story of discovery by self and sister that Lady Birdwood was racist and active in the British National Party [BNP]; discovery of reference to own grandfather in biography of Lord Birdwood in India House Library. Mentions own book 'Balti Britain' [2008]. [48:01] Comments on father's mixed feelings about the Birdwoods; difficulty distinguishing between real history and narrative in rich oral culture of family; siblings (a sister and a younger brother); death of further sister aged 1 (with story of snake at funeral). [51:09] Comments on parents' view of importance of higher education for their children; sister's marriage after her A Levels; brother's degree and employment in economics then as carpenter (due to influence of Sufi "cult" led by Shaykh Nazim). [54:23] Comments on/story of attending BHS, including experience of racist assaults on journeys to and from school, bullying. Positive comments on head teacher; first mathematics teacher. Continues story of BHS with comments on move up through BHS streams, particular teachers. Story of winning chess match against physics teacher; disagreements with history teacher; continued rise through school streams to join small group taking A Levels; winning of London debating championships twice (in debating team from BHS); application to City University [CU], London to read physics. [1:04:20] Comments on parents' religious practice, including visits to Central London Mosque as whole family at festivals, father's occasional attendance at mosque on Friday, tendency for prayers to be said at home, mother's reading of Koran to self and siblings; mother's expectations concerning own reading of Koran, morality and participation in social/community service (through Muslim student societies). [1:06:58] Comments on tendency for own religious practice to follow from involvement in the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) and Presidency of London Islamic Circle [LIC]. Comments on broad discussion of "Muslim culture" in LIC including history of Muslim philosophy and science; involvement in LIC of students and postgraduate students in sciences. [1:09:05] Comments on continuation in UK of Friday evening poetry readings at home. Mentions visits to Bollywood cinema on Sundays with mother. Description of home on Hilsea Street, Clapton Pond, London. Comments on own reading of Urdu poetry; Urdu O Level. [1:17:48] Further comments on experience of violent assault by groups of 'skinheads' and 'blackshirts', with story, including observation that this form of racism reduced in late 1960s.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Ziauddin Sardar, writer and broadcaster

  • Related transcripts

    Ziauddin Sardar interviewed by Paul Merchant: full transcript of the interview

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