Sikh and Panjab Studies Forum

Apr 1, 2013 at 7:50 AM

Dialogues with/in Sikh Studies: Texts, Practices and Performances

Description and Rationale

The main purpose of this conference is to explore interdisciplinary approaches, resulting from academic inquiries into Sikh texts, as well as the practices that surround them and their performance. The dialogues to be explored are made possible by the environment of the university, which serves as a place where scholars from many fields and disciplines come together to pursue critical inquiries and comparisons. In many ways the Sikh community has been very supportive of academic inquires – though, at times, they have voiced outright criticism. Our hope for this conference is to provide a forum that focuses on how academic discussions and those arising in the community at large can complement one another, rather than being at odds.

The academic field of Sikh Studies is in a relatively young and rapidly growing stage. With much of the foundational scholarship on Sikhism emerging from within the fields of Religious Studies and South Asian Studies, Sikh Studies has shared with these larger fields in often focusing on textual and historical approaches, sometimes to the extent of softening the focus on—or even overlooking—Sikh practices, performances, and the everyday ‘doings’ of Sikh lives. The growing turn in Religious Studies toward ‘lived religion’, ‘everyday religion’, and other similar paradigms, in part, calls scholars to be aware that ‘religions’ are at least as much about the things that people do as about the ideas, ideals, and central narratives enshrined within their texts and scriptures. Rather than dichotomize text and practice, we invite papers that draw attention to the intersections between Sikh sacred texts and the actual practices of the Sikh community.

We encourage proposals that explore the many...

Feb 20, 2013 at 6:15 PM


Journal of Punjab Studies, Spring 2012, Volume 19, No. 1


Divisions among Sikh Communities in Britain  and the Role of Caste System: A Case Study of  Four Gurdwaras in Multi-Ethnic Leicester

Kiyotaka Sato
Meiji University, Japan

The purpose of this article is to clarify the varied historical processes involved in the development of Sikh communities in Britain by studying the history of the Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) in one multi-ethnic city, Leicester. As a Japanese historian, I have been researching on the development of Sikh communities in multi-ethnic Leicester through interviewees of the Sikh communities, and what has emerged as common to the narratives of fission has been the factor of caste. Bearing this in mind, I look at how caste issues influenced divisions in the four Gurdwaras in Leicester, using oral accounts gathered in interviews with those involved. Through this study, I demonstrate  that  the Sikh communities are grouped and classified in complex ways, and their history cannot be fully understood without the reference to the continued operation of the caste system. Hopefully this article will make a significant contribution to Sikh and Punjab Studies by providing and contextualizing local-specific ethnographic data.


Caste in Punjab: Political Marginalization and Cultural Assertion of Scheduled Castes in Punjab

Neeru Sharma
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Despite being a highly stratified society characterized by caste and class divisions and a state with highest scheduled caste population, Punjab is seldom considered for studying its caste system or a case study of dalit assertion. The objective of this paper...

Feb 12, 2013 at 9:20 PM

This weekend (Feb. 16 and 17, 2013), the fourth Sikholars: Sikh Graduate Student Conference is being held at Stanford University.  The Sikholars conference has attracted young scholars from over three continents and twenty-five universities. With topics ranging from Khalistan to Unix Coding, from sex-selective abortion to diasporic literature, from Nihangs in the court of Ranjit Singh to the North American bhangra circuit, from Sikh sculpture and architecture to representations of masculinity in Punjabi films, the widest possible range of those pursuing graduate studies on Sikh related topics are represented.  

Dr. Cynthia Mahmood, Professor at the University of Notre Dame, will be delivering Amitesh Kaur Memorial Lecture at the conference. The details of the conference are below.

Feb 6, 2013 at 5:47 PM


Volume 8, Issue 1, 2012 Abstracts


by Laurent Gayer
CNRS-CURAPP, Amiens CSH, Delhi, India

Most Sikh militants who picked up the gun against the Indian state in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar (June 1984) were male, but a handful of women also took part in the armed struggle for an independent Sikh state, Khalistan, between 1984 and 1995. Throughout the insurrection, possibly a few hundreds of women guerrillas (compared to thousands of male recruits) enrolled in the militancy. Although most of these women did not directly participate to the military operations of the insurgents, they all received a military training and took part in encounters with the security forces. This study relies upon a series of extensive interviews with ten former female Sikh fighters, who joined the militancy after Operation Bluestar. The life stories uncovered through these interviews focused on the family antecedents of these women combatants, their socialisation and politicisation process, as well as their concrete experience of the armed struggle and later on of decommissioning. This study of women recruits’ militant careers tends to downplay the role of individual beliefs and motivations in the dynamics of women's activism, as these motivating factors were neither sufficient nor even necessary to sustain such high risk...

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