I was born in Algeria, but already my household, which had been in Algeria for a long clip, before the Gallic colonisation, was non merely Algerian. The Gallic linguistic communication was non the linguistic communication of its ascendants. I lived in the pre-independent Algeria, but non all that long earlier Independence. All of this makes for a landscape that is really, really aˆ¦ full of contracts, mistures, crossings. The least statement on this topic seems to me to be a mutilation in progress.

Jacques Derrida

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A diaspora exists exactly because it remembers the ‘homeland ‘ . Without this memory aˆ¦. , these migrators and colonists would be merely people in a new scene, into which they merge, conveying small or nil to the new ‘home ‘ , accepting in assorted ways and forms the mores and attitudes that already be in their new state and society aˆ¦ The people of the diaspora, nevertheless, do non simply settle in new states, they recreate in their socio-economic, political and cultural establishments a version of aˆ¦ that homeland that they remember.

( Reeves and Rai 2006: 18 )


It is of import at the beginning to see the subject of this conference, “ Multinational Punjabis in the twenty-first Century: Beginnings, Junctures and Responses ” . There is small uncertainty that at this critical occasion there is an intensified multinational motion of people who challenge nation-state finiteness. However, it is of import to see what makes Punjabis multinational and in what manner do they problematize nation-state finiteness? Is it mere migration to several different states? Is it the issue of remittals that have fuelled the Punjab economic system? Is it the status of expatriate, dispersion, disruption and supplanting? Can they be considered to be a diasporic people? Does the Punjabi diaspora need to be more nuanced? Can we truly talk of a Punjabi diaspora or is more accurate to talk about a Sikh diaspora? The dispersion of Punjabis and in peculiar, Punjabi Sikhs is by no agencies a recent phenomenon – they have been on the move for good over a century. During the class of this reference, I want to research these inquiries in order to determine what makes Punjabi transnationalism and the Sikh diaspora unique, whilst recognizing that their individualities are invariably germinating, continuously inflected by the civilizations in which they live.

I begin with two sketchs that will let us to get down to understand non merely the phenomenon of Sikh diasporic topics as being “ At Home in Motion ” but besides their precariousness. First, On April 17, 2007 a overplus of electronic mails and web logs captured the precariousness and trepidation that many Asiatic Americans felt as intelligence studies about the individuality of the individual who carried out the Virginia Tech shots came to visible radiation. Andrew Lam captured the anxiousness of cultural Americans who braced themselves for the after effects of the violent deaths:

All across America, no uncertainty, non-Korean Asian-Americans are now heaving a suspiration of alleviation. ‘Asian, ‘ after all, was the four-alarm-fire word we saw throughout the twenty-four hours after the shots that took the lives of 33 people at Virginia Tech. The taw was ‘Asian, ‘ the intelligence studies said.

But who was this ‘Asian, ‘ precisely?

Before the intelligence identified the slayer as Cho Seung-hui, a 23-year-old English major from South Korea, all cultural backgrounds were up for grabs. A friend from a little college town on the East Coast, who is Chinese, called to state: ‘Please, delight allow it be some other Asiatic.

We ‘ll be in deep if it ‘s Chinese. ‘

In a popular Vietnamese chat room, Vietnamese college pupils were composing to each other to theorize. One said, ‘I have a bad feeling. It might be Mi’t ( Vietnamese slang for Vietnamese ) . ‘aˆ¦

The blogosphere buzzed with guess on the individuality of the slayer.

The waiting game was every bit tense as waiting to happen out who the following American Idol might beaˆ¦ .

A Muslim Pakistani friend, an applied scientist who refused to hold his name mentioned, emailed me to state, ‘If he ‘s a Paki and Muslim, we might all merely pack up and travel place. I ‘m praying that he is some other Asiatic. ‘

Let it be some other Asiatic! This was the supplication among so many Asian-American communities. And non merely Asiansaˆ¦ .

To be a minority in America, even in the twenty-first century, is to be ever on test. An evil act by one indicts the full community. Whoever doubts this demand merely look at the spike in hate offenses against Muslims and South Asiatic communities after 9/11 ( Lam, 2007 ) .

What Lam captured is the world that diasporic populations, particularly Muslims and Sikhs, endure where security and the menace of terrorist act have dominated the political landscape since the terrorist onslaughts in New York and Washington on 9/11, the bombardments in Bali, Madrid, London and Edinburgh. In the immediate wake of Osama Bin Laden ‘s decease, these diasporic topics are all the more concerned. Their concerns have best been articulated in a web log by Valerie Kaur who writes that, “ Even if I wanted to observe, I ‘m excessively busy worrying. Today, many Sikh, Muslim, and Arab American households, brace for force, concerned that Americans will aim those who ‘look like ‘ the Osama bin Laden we merely destroyed ” ( Kaur 2011 ) .

Sikhs in the West, since 9/11, have vociferously argued that they are non Muslims. Sikh individuality in the West is defined as that which it is non, viz. as non-Muslim, with claims to a alone individuality. This is all the more interesting given that in the West the individuality of Punjabis or Sikhs is about ever subsumed under some other signifiers of taxonomy – Oriental person, Asian, Indian, East Indian, Afghan, Paki, Punjabi etc. As cultural groups demand acknowledgment instead than being subsumed into some broader class such as Asiatic, Indian or even East Indian, it is pertinent to understand the procedures of individuality formation as ensuing from either digesting cultural similarities as opposed to confederations that are forged to battle external menaces both existent and perceived.

For illustration, in the station 9/11 environment, in response to American bigots there is an increasing talk of a South Asiatic individuality because “ Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs all look the same – brown – many victims are make up one’s minding they have a batch more in common than they had antecedently realized. ” ( Kurien 2003: 273 ) . There is small uncertainty that in the face of racism and marginalization, cultural groups make strategic confederations merely as they did in South Africa as portion of the alliance that fought apartheid. There, Indians, Coloureds and Africans ( as classified by the province ) forged a political confederation of “ inkinesss ” to contend the oppressive “ white ” government.

Let me turn so to my 2nd sketch. In the immediate wake of the events of 9/11, about everyplace in the West, Sikhs were subjected to roast, utmost signifiers of racism and even violent deaths due mostly to the turban that they adorned ( Ahmed, 2000 ; Puar and Rai, 2004 ) . In Adelaide, Australia a few hebdomads subsequently, when I went to a cricket lucifer between South Africa and Australia, at the ill-famed Adelaide Oval, I was personally confronted by the events of 9/11. I was with a group of faculty members ; all of us were go toing a cultural surveies conference at the university and decided to watch the last session of the cricket. Whilst in the past, I had been chided about my turban ( particularly when India was playing ) , I was amazed at the reaction as I entered the Oval and had to walk past the outer where the celebrated mark board is located. As I walked by, a chant “ Osama, Osama ” began in earnest with empty plastic spectacless being thrown in the air. After holding lived in Australia for a really long clip, I felt truly threatened, with a rabble ready to fall upon me as we made our manner to the siting country. The other faculty members that I was with, looked on in embarrassment but no 1 said anything – I think we were all relieved that we made it to our seats without any incident. A twosome of hebdomads subsequently, I was in South Africa on a research trip and found myself in one of Cape Town ‘s more Muslim countries. Here, as I walked through the streets there was a different sort of raillery with people besides shouting “ Osama ” at me with some obvious heat. The turban was so a great form of individuality – from the racial twits of my childhood in Canada, to Australia to South Africa ; I as a Sikh was marked in a peculiar mode.

At Home in Motion

In the autobiographical narrative about his travels to Egypt, Amitav Ghosh writes about his brush with the dwellers of an Egyptian small town. Ghosh discovers that the members of the stray small town are merely every bit traveled as any metropolitan jet-setters. He writes of his meeting:

The work forces of the small town had all the busy restlessness of air hose riders in a theodolite sofa. Many of them had worked and travelled in the sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf, others had been to Libya and Jordan and Syria, some had been to the Yemen as soldiers, others to Saudi Arabia as pilgrims, a few had visited Europe: some of them had passports so thick they opened out like ink-blackened concertinas ( as cited in Clifford 1997: 1 ) .

The rural small town as an airdrome theodolite sofa is, as James Clifford has pointed out, the quintessential figure for postmodernity, “ the new universe order of mobility, of rootless histories ” ( 1 ) . But it would be incorrect to believe that this was a new phenomenon, because the grandparents, ascendants and other relations of these people were besides really well-travelled. “ The itchy feet of its laminitiss had been ploughed into the dirt of the small town ” says Ghosh, “ it seemed to me sometimes that every adult male in it was a traveller ” ( 2 ) .

Although he was composing about Egypt, this history could merely every bit good have been based on any figure of Punjabi small towns. In every Punjabi small town, one is certain to meet infinite people who have travelled or, at the really least, have been in contact with person who has travelled. As Surinder Jodhka has pointed out, one of the most of import layman values that Sikhs embody is mobility. Sikhs are non merely found in virtually every portion of India but they “ have besides been a globally nomadic community. They were among the first from the subcontinent to research the Western hemisphere ” ( Jodhka 2009: 18 ) , a singular fact given that they constitute a little minority of the Indian population.

It would non be an hyperbole to indicate out that the very civilization of the Punjabis is a intercrossed composite, made up of the assorted interactions between different stages of conquerings and contacts, Mughal and later British colonialism, every bit good as brushs with peoples from virtually every portion of the universe. The moving ridges of migration from the Punjab to every corner of the Earth has meant increasing consciousness of the universe every bit good as the incorporation of different cultural patterns that these people bring back with them when they return, albeit even for a brief visit. It is these forces of transculturation that have continuously constituted and reconstituted Punjabi civilization.

The thought of civilization which makes itself at place in gesture is one whereby the “ patterns of supplanting might emerge as constitutive of cultural significances instead than as their simple transportation or extension ” ( 3 ) . But what involvements me here is non the devising of a Punjabi civilization in the Punjab, although I am cognizant that this will ever impact on diasporic individualities. Rather, I am interested in understanding the buildings of multinational diasporic Sikh individualities that are invariably germinating, the mode in which they are constituted and reconstituted through patterns of dispersion and supplanting. See for illustration, how the really impression of the diaspora is altering with forms of colony taking to the phenomenon of “ Twice Migrants ” ( Bhachu, 1985 ) or, as in my ain instance, multiple migrations – a Sikh born in Kenya, whose parents migrated to Canada, and who now chooses to populate in Australia whilst holding worked in both the US and the UK. A cardinal facet of this seeable cultural individuality is the turban, by which Sikhs are unmistakably identified every bit good as the centrality of the Sikh dharam or religion ( besides see Mandair, 2009 ) . Indeed, cardinal to these varied experiences is the Gurudwara – that remains a singular invariable in all locations. In each of these states, Sikh communities and individualities are forged and maintained ever in relationship non merely to the host civilization but the community that congregates around the Gurudwara. We merely need to believe about the fact that we are here to observe the centennial of a Gurudwara whose initiation figures even a hundred old ages considered it the critical organ of community life.

In his Genealogies of Religion, Talal Asad argues that the term faith today is implicative of a peculiar tendency that seeks to universalize a Christian Protestant impression of faith. In this peculiar rendering of secularization, faith belongs to the private domain with people taking to pattern their faith in an single manner.[ 1 ]On the contrary, “ ‘politicized faiths ‘ threaten both ground and autonomy and are diametrically opposed to the broad political worldview of modernness ” ( Pratt 2003: 421 ) . In Britain, for illustration, Arvind Mandair points out that, South Asiatic immigrants and colonists frequently, “ reproduce their heritage traditions in a mode that does non needfully conform to the ideological demands of modern-day multiculturalism ”[ 2 ]( Mandair 2009: 2 ) .

Cornelius Castoriadis argues that the societal complex number is, “ the creative activity of meanings and the creative activity of the images and figures that support these meanings. ” ( Gole 2002: 175 ) When we look at the modern societal complex number in which Sikhs are located, The Sikh Dharam is either encoded in the mode in which Asad describes faith or else it is seen as being outside the kingdom of the broad political worldview in which faiths should ideally run. Sikhs themselves remain at bay within these two diametrically opposed places. However, what is common is the mode in which the societal complex number is profoundly invested in the turban as a form of difference. I will return to the turban as a form shortly.

In order to exemplify further the complexnesss of being at place in gesture, allow us turn to another narrative about going. This is an utmost narrative of going, of a Hawaiian group, the Moe, who play Hawaiian guitar, sing and dance and represent possibly the most reliable version of early 20th century Hawaiian slide guitar and vocal manners. What is important about the Moes is that they spent over 56 old ages going and executing their music all over the universe without of all time returning to Hawaii. James Clifford asks, “ how, for 56 old ages in transient, intercrossed environments, did they continue and contrive a sense of Hawaiian ‘home ‘ ? And how, presently is their music being recycled in the go oning innovation of Hawaiian genuineness? ” ( Clifford 1997: 26 ) . These inquiries about the Moes are every bit pertinent to the multinational Sikh diaspora.

Pulling on this experience, I want to oppugn how diasporic Sikhs, who have been going for such a long clip ( so for several coevalss ) , have maintained something of “ place ” whilst in gesture. Indeed, as I reflect upon my ain individuality, it is one that has been constituted wholly in the diaspora.[ 3 ]More significantly, I am interested in defining the centrality of the turban foremost, as an artifact of the Sikh religion every bit good as a cultural individuality and, 2nd as portion of an aesthetic kingdom that constitutes certain sorts of political subjectiveness. As a diasporic Sikh, the argument about a ‘soft ‘ or ‘hardened ‘ Khalsa Sikh individuality that can be traced to pre or post the Singh Sabha motion, at one degree appears, at least to me, as being barely relevant. As a diasporic Sikh topic, there are clear filiative places one occupies in relation to the Punjab, but more of import are the affiliative places one has with the Sikh religion, merely as a Catholic has with the Pope and the Vatican. One ‘s universe is non merely defined by a geographical infinite that happened to be the place of birth of the Sikh religion. What becomes more relevant are the wide lineations and the bare kernels of hammering Sikh individualities irrespective of geographical location. The importance of such affiliative places, particularly from a multinational position can be seen, for illustration, in the instance of a turbaned Sikh in the UK in 1959 who was denied employment. In the diaspora, it is these affilative places with the Sikh dharam that become peculiarly outstanding. It is every bit of import once more to retrieve that a key to these procedures is the centrality of the Sikh Gurudwara that becomes a electric force for communities that are by and large fighting to ground themselves in a different host civilization.

The Turban as a Signifier of Identity

In his book, Colonialism And Its Forms of Knowledge, Bernard Cohn, recounts the instance of a G.S. Sagar, a turbaned Sikh who had been denied employment as a coach music director with Manchester Transport on the evidences that he refused to have on the official unvarying cap prescribed for employees. This instance symbolised the “ supplanting of economic, political and cultural issues, rooted in two hundred old ages of tangled relationships between Indians and their British vanquishers ” ( 1996: 107 ) . The sarcasm of the Sagar instance was, Cohn argues, that it was the British who had played a cardinal function in doing the turban a portion of Sikh individuality in the 19th century.

Cohn provides a brief, deformed and profoundly blemished history of the Sikh religion that deserves a through exposing given that it is based on basically Orientalist readings.[ 4 ]However, as our focal point here is on the centrality of a Sikh individuality signified by the turban, it is necessary to turn to his statement about how the British were instrumental in building a Sikh individuality. Cohn argues that amongst 19th century European and Indian creative persons two types of Sikh turbans were represented:

One was a tightly cloaked turban of field fabric, which was either thin plenty or loose plenty on the Crown to suit the topknot of the Sikh ‘s hair. The 2nd type of turban worn by the Sikhs in the early 19th century was associated with rulership. This turban was intricately cloaked and had a jigha, a plume with a gem attached, and a sairpaich, a bunch of gems in a gold or Ag scene. These cosmetic devices were symbols of royalty, popularized in India by the Mughals ( 109 ) .

The diminution of the Mughal imperium witnessed the rise of the Sikh province under the leading of Maharajah Ranjit Singh which finally was conquered and annexed in 1849 by the East India company. The British, impressed with the “ soldierly ” qualities of the Sikhs, found them to be “ perfect recruits for the Indian ground forces ” ( 109 ) . Over clip, the Sikhs became an built-in portion of the British ground forces in India. By 1911, although the Sikhs were merely one per centum of the population, they accounted for 20 per centum of the ground forces. It was in the ground forces, Cohn argues, that the Sikh turban was standardised and made distinct from Hindu and Muslim turbans:

This turban, big and neatly wrapped to cover the whole caput and ears, became the seeable badge of those the British had recruited. The Sikh turban and neatly trimmed face fungus were to stand until 1947 as the outward mark of those qualities for which they were recruited and trained: their abandon, controlled by the turban, and their ferocity, translated into dogged bravery and impassive ‘buffalo’-like willingness to obey and follow their British officers ( 110 ) .

Cohn argues that the Sikh spiritual codification did non order the turban. Hence, the typical headgear of the Sikhs “ was constructed out of the colonial context, in which the British swayers sought to exteriorize qualities they thought appropriate to roles that assorted groups in India were to play ” ( 110 ) . This standardized military turban encouraged by the British over clip became general amongst Sikhs. The turban, he points out, is no longer a symbol of trueness to a military codification associated with the British. Rather, it is now an of import portion “ in the Sikh ‘s attempt to keep their alone individuality in the face of ill will and force per unit area to conform to ‘normal ‘ or expected frock in mass society ” ( 111 ) . This was clearly apparent in the Sagar instance every bit good as the Sikhs ‘ conflict to be exempt from bike helmets and a overplus of instances that discriminated them on the footing of their alone headgear.

Whilst there is small uncertainty that processes of transculturation affect the civilization of both the coloniser and the colonized, the suggestion that the present turban was an innovation of the British colonial ground forces is one that is extremely debatable. Indeed, Cohn provides small grounds for such an averment. Furthermore, the thought of a neatly trimmed beard as a standardised British ground forces individuality is one that is easy challenged by a casual glimpse at the images of Sikh regiments. What we have in Cohn, is a continuance of a imitation of Sikh individuality and orientalist representations that have been unusually consistent. The averment that the turban is represented as an outward mark to command the duplicate features of “ abandon ” and “ ferocity ” are illustrations of the orientalist impressions of Sikhs as a ‘martial race ‘ that continue to be a dominant portion of the Western imaginativeness.

It is clear that frock is one of the most basic manner in which we are able to put non merely ourselves but besides others in the societal universe. As Goodrum has pointed out it is clear that apparels socialize the organic structure into a cultural being:

This socio-cultural production and reproduction of the organic structure contributes to a extremely politicized series of definitions through which our single and corporate individualities are mapped and ascribed significances. Therefore the clothed organic structure may be viewed as a cultural merchandise cardinal non merely to a sense of ego, but besides important in the creative activity of conformance, a feeling of shared belonging and in furthering a national individuality ( 2001:87 ) .

It is clear that “ techniques of forging the organic structure are a seeable signifier of socialization in which individualities are created, constructed and presented through the habitus of vesture ( 87 ) . It is dressing that creates an equivocal boundary that so frequently disturbs us. Given that the racialised organic structure is itself extremely debatable, the Sikh turban that is so much more than a mere extension of the organic structure inextricably links the organic structure to the societal universe but more significantly separates it from that universe. As Wilson points out, “ frock is the frontier between the ego and the non ego ” ( Wilson 1985: 2-3 ) .

Jasbir Puar has competently captured the quandary that the turban nowadayss for the Sikh diasporic topic particularly in the West. That the Sikh turban is kindred to the head covering is non surprising because:

The turban is non merely imbued with the patriot, spiritual and cultural symbolics of the Other. The turban both reveals and hides the terrorist, a changeless sliding between that which can be disciplined and that which must be outlawed. Despite the taxonomies of turbans, their specific regional and locational family trees, their arrangement in clip and infinite, their uniqueness and their multiplicity, the turban-as-monolith profoundly problems and disturbs the American national complex numbers and their attendant impressions of security ( Puar 2008: 54 )

Acerb onslaughts on minority communities, particularly Muslims and Sikhs, in Western states including the targeting of the head covering as a pre-modern artifact that has no topographic point within a modern democratic society, needs to be contextualized against the background of the fright of home-grown diasporic terrorist act. Indeed, some of the most intense arguments environing the ‘war on panic ‘ in Afghanistan were, and are based, on the demand to salvage its adult females whose freedom had been badly curtailed by the Taliban with the head covering as the symbol that most confronted Westerners. There is small uncertainty that adult females were adversely affected by that government, nevertheless, to fetishize the head covering seems peculiarly debatable without cognizing the myriad of grounds that adult females veil in the first topographic point.

In recent times, several states in Europe have fixated on the hijab, the nakob or the burka as symbols of subjugation that are unacceptable within a Europe that promotes, above all else, a signifier of democracy underpinned by equality, freedom and tolerance. In Australia, the argument has intensified late within State Parliaments, where private members have introduced measures to censor the burka. The forbiddance of the head covering on evidences that it is ‘undemocratic ‘ , ‘oppresses adult females ‘ , is a ‘security menace ‘ – all the claims that have been articulated with ardor to censor the head covering malodor of the centuries old discourse of Orientalism. There is small uncertainty that similar averments can and hold been made about the Sikh turban.

However, the negation of freedom or the curtailment of freedom to procure freedom is most dry, given the high value with which spiritual freedom is held in the West. To postcolonial topics, this should non be excessively surprising, given that the colonial power ever knew what was best for you – given the ‘white adult male ‘s load ‘ – and the civilizing mission. More significantly, restricting freedom on the stalking-horse that it was indispensable to procure freedom was an effectual tool of administration that was perfected by colonial governments. Nowhere is this captured better than in the fright of the other, the demand to maintain out the ‘native ‘ , to maintain them in their topographic point. In order to keep this separation, luxuriant signifiers of security and policing were indispensable. In Algeria, it was Albert Camus who wrote about:

. . . this intriguing and perturbing people, near and yet separate, that one brushed yesteryear during the twenty-four hours ; sometimes there was friendly relationship or chumminess but, when dark fell, they returned to their ain terra incognita houses which we ne’er visited, barricaded besides with their adult females whom we ne’er saw or, if we saw them in the street, we did non cognize who they were with head coverings covering half their faces and their beautifully soft and animal eyes above the white mask. Though fatalistic and exhausted, they were so legion in the vicinities where they clustered that there hovered an unseeable menace which you could whiff in the air. . . ( cited in Aldrich 1996: 141 )

Camus ‘ description captures the absurdness of the colonial undertaking, the fright, the desire and sense of disaffection from the autochthonal population. In France, the current compulsion with the head covering and other spiritual artifacts including Sikh turbans is surely non new and harks to the yearss of the Algerian War. But it is one that continues to stalk the Gallic imaginativeness. In 1990, for illustration, Julia Kristeva, a few months after the contention environing the erosion of headscarves, wrote in her Open Letter to Harlem Desir that, in order to reinvigorate the rules of secularism in Gallic schools, a peculiar quotation mark from Montesquieu be displayed in every schoolroom:

If I would cognize of something which would help me, and which would be harmful to my household, I would reject it from my psyche. If I knew of something which would be utile to my household and which would non be to my state, I would seek to bury it. If I knew of something which would be utile to my state, and which would be harmful to Europe, or which would be utile to Europe and harmful to humanity, I would see it as a offense ( as cited in Moruzzi 1994: 665 ) .

This quotation mark highlights the centrality of Europe to the really undertaking of the Enlightenment. It is admirable that Montesquieu advocates that broader European involvements subsume the Gallic national involvements. However, the migration of big Numberss of post-colonial topics with descents non to Europe but with associations to France high spots the perceptual experience that there is a Western inclination to ‘close ideological and national ranks in the face of other. . . cultural individualities ‘ ( 665 ) . It should non be surprising so, that Muslims and Sikhs view the motivations behind the forbiddance of the burka and turbans as misanthropic moves aimed at contradicting their freedom in order to procure their freedom.

A Diasporic Sikh Identity

In order to define a multinational diasporic Sikh individuality, It is necessary to distinguish between the many-sided types of diasporic topics, separating between economic migrators, political asylees, expatriates, refugees and postcolonial emigres who moved ( and go on to travel in the 21st century ) from a once colonized home-country to postcolonial metropoles. This raises peculiar issues in footings of topographic point and ‘home ‘ ( Koshy 1994 ; Roy 1995 ; Brah 1996 ) . It raises inquiries about the nature of diasporic experience and diasporic individuality ( Hall 1990 ; Mann 1993 ; Farred 1996 ; Mishra 1996 ) , every bit good as about the significance of gender and national factors ( Koshy 1994 ; Foster 1997 ; Bhatia 1998 ; Bracks 1998 ) . A rich modern-day diasporic literature has evolved around assorted immigrant communities: for illustration, the Irish ( McCafferey 1976 ; Akenson 1993 ) ; the Asian ( Pan 1990 ; Lim 1997 ; Ma 1998 ) and the South Asian ( Nelson 1992 ; Kachru 1996 ; Mishra 1996 ; Bhatia 1998 ) . Although these assorted diasporas endure peculiar challenges, it is of import to recognize that there is no massive Sikh diaspora. Rather, in relation to Sikhs we could besides believe about two farther types of diasporas – “ old ” diaspora born out of the age of colonial capital and “ new ” diaspora those who are portion of the age of globalization ( Rai and Reeves 2009: 3 ) . There is small uncertainty that these two diasporas coexist and frequently the old and new come together when it is politically efficacious.

In a extremely influential essay Brian Axel has argued that “ instead than gestating of the fatherland as something that creates the diaspora, it may be more productive to see the diaspora as something that creates the fatherland ” ( Axel 2002: 426 ) . This is an of import reconfiguration because now it is non simply the centrality of the myth of return that defines the diaspora. On the contrary, he argues that it was the diasporic activism for a Khalistan that created a Utopian fatherland and as “ such, must be understood as an affectional and temporal procedure instead than a topographic point ” ( 426 ) . Jasbir Puar has farther clarified this thought of the fatherland as a spacial as opposed to locational phenomenon that gets determined through “ multiple and contingent temporalties, every bit much as it is memory of topographic point, webs ( of travel, communicating, and informational exchange ) , the myth of the at hand return to origin, and the progressive telos of beginning to diaspora ( 2008: 51 ) . If we add to this the thought of the “ old ” and “ new ” diaspora that I have outlined above, we can see how the diaspora of the age of colonialism can come together with the age of globalization even though they frequently do n’t hold much in common. The thought of a massive Sikh diaspora can be challenged by the instance of the Sikh diaspora of Singapore, for illustration, that is mostly constituted of the “ old ” diaspora that is widely accepted by the province and have non been drawn into events such as the tundung ( Muslim headscarf ) contention of 2002. In Europe, nevertheless, both the “ old ” and “ new ” have coalesced around the issue of the forbiddance of the turban in Gallic schools. It is however, dry that in some parts of the diaspora, the erosion of the turban has been interpreted to intend a certain orthodoxy or so fundamentalism that links these Sikhs as being sympathetic to the Khalistan motion. These representations forget that the beginnings of the turban are located within a tradition that sought release from Mughal subjugation and persecution ( Nayyar 2008: 30 ) .

The devising of a Sikh diasporic individuality has much to make with the mode in which Sikhs have overcome the obstructions placed on new migrators. The troubles associated with migration are all excessively familiar. In order to foreground these troubles, it is of import to narrate events and experiences of how interactions with the wider community in specific venues have reinforced Sikh individuality. It is important to retrieve that all individuality is relational. Let us look at one such illustration of individuality formation in New York. In her survey of what it is to be an Indian adult female in modern-day United States, Monisha Das Gupta interviewed several second-generation Indian adult females. For our intents, allow us turn to her history of an interview that she had with a thirty-year-old Sikh adult female, Manpreet. Das Gupta tells us that Manpreet grew up in Queens in the early 1970s, which was for her a really alone experience. Her school memories were marred by experiences of racial favoritism and marginalization. Consequently, she had no points of contact in the environment outside her place during those first old ages. Manpreet describes her experiences:

I have suffered to the extent that the childs would wait for me and my brother and sister after school to crush us up. It was really bad because we were Sikhs and my brother would hold his hair [ knotted up ] on top of his caput. They would wait for him after school merely to open his hair. They would inquire him whether he was a miss… .My father used to pick us up from school because we ‘d be scared to travel place entirely. It got so bad that we did non desire to travel to school. The instructors knew about this. They could n’t make anything or they did non desire to make anything. You know, I felt bias from everyplace ( Das Gupta 1997: 576 ) .

The alienation felt by Manpreet led her to seeking out Indians in an attempt to associate her home-life with the outside universe. As more American indians migrated to the United States, Manpreet recalls how alleviated she was to hold schoolmates from South Asia:

You had to travel to the following town [ in the early 1970s ] to run into an Indian. I felt really happy if I ran across an Indian on the block. You ‘d do a friend right off. Now of class you see them all over the topographic point. Some old ages subsequently [ mentioning to the late 1970ss ] more American indians started coming. The gurdwara became a topographic point to run into friends. There were more Indians in school. We had topographic points to travel where we did n’t hold to be with Americans. Now you had another Indian friend to be with. In Junior high school when we would sit in the cafeteria there would be Indians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis all around you ( 577 ) .

What is important about this illustration is that it highlights the mode in which cultural individuality is forged through going. In New York what brought people together was a certain acknowledgment of a shared civilization, Sikh, Punjabi or Indian. But above all else, what we can see in this illustration is the centrality of the Sikh Gurudwara.

There is small uncertainty that in many topographic points such experiences led to Sikhs abandoning the turban in order to conform into ‘normal ‘ frock patterns of mainstream society. On the other manus, as in my instance, turning up in Saskatoon Canada where such fortunes prevailed on a day-to-day footing, the desire to continue the turban became an ineluctable portion of my individuality. A dour finding to keep my ‘unique ‘ individuality in the face of a hostile environment was constituent of a certain political subjectiveness that entailed basically a political relations of opposition. The turban is, at one degree, a simple piece of vesture but it entails and signals certain sorts of political subjectiveness and signifiers of often-problematic citizenship. Increasingly, after 9/11, the turban is represented as a meaning tradition and orthodoxy and has been met with peculiar signifiers of patroling. It is in this context, that Sikhs, particularly in the US, have endured the full wrath of the security setup of the province.

As discourses of multiculturalism, acknowledgment, tolerance, and inclusivity come into drama in states such as Canada, a different type of political subjectiveness is being forged. Here, the inclusion of the instance of Baltej Dhillon, a Sikh who sought to go a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ( RCMP ) has been included in the famed, Canada: A People ‘s History, as a fable of adjustment, tolerance and the credence of difference. Dhillon is represented as a successful “ new Canadian ” who is inexorable about retaining his turban as portion of his uniform for the RCMP. He is quoted as stating “ What it is to be Canadian, I think, finally becomes what it is to be a citizen on this Earth ” . His narrative is read as an “ inspiring narrative, selected as a presentation of the capacity of the state province to suit the aspirations of all groups in Canadian society ( Dick 2004: 105 ) . It might good look that Sikhs have come a considerable manner to derive the sort of acknowledgment that Baltej Dhillon celebrates as “ a citizen of the Earth ” but the uninterrupted policing and patterns of standardization are far excessively apparent.

I want to reason, nevertheless, that there is something important that has occurred to rise Sikh individuality in the diaspora peculiarly in the last three decennaries. What has given rise to a outstanding new Sikh individuality globally are a series of events “ that have scarred the memories of Punjabi Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims likewise, most of whom can certify to the hetreological nature of Punjabi individuality ” ( Mandair 2009: 19. These events can be recalled easy: the 1947 divider, a Punjabi hegira in the 1960s to the Uk, US and Canada, the 1976 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan and the events in Punjab in 1984.

In peculiar, it was the storming of the Golden Temple in 1984 and events at that place later which have impacted upon a modern-day diasporic Sikh individuality – where the “ old ” and “ new ” diaspora have coalesced. This sense of heightened individuality is by no agencies a new phenomenon. It surely has occurred in the yesteryear. What made this event so of import and typical and what allowed it to capture the Sikh imaginativeness, is globalization and the technological progresss in the media that have the capacity to convey stray events from around the universe into our places about immediately. It is globalization and the communications revolution which reveals non merely the full stuff horror of the events in Rwanda, Bosnia, Beijing or Amritsar but besides fuels long-distance patriotisms which give rise to a renewed sense of a common individuality. It is globalization that has had a monolithic impact on the forging of a different diasporic Sikh individuality from the late 20th century onwards ( Appadurai, 1996 ) .

Although civilization travels, evolves and becomes hybridised, it is faith which is the constituent component of a diasporic Sikh individuality forged out of a sense of supplanting since the late 20th century. There are core values in which all Sikhs believe and there is a singular consistence in the really mode in which the faith is practised in Gurdwaras ( temples ) throughout the universe. The onslaught on the Golden Temple, in 1984, the blackwash of the Indian Prime-Minister, Indira Ghandi, and the subsequent Delhi pogroms, and the go oning albeit slightly hushed Khalistan motion have had the general impact of exciting Sikh political activity every bit good as intensifying ( if non to some degree unifying ) Sikh individuality.

A cost of this has been the fragmenting of Indian individuality of the kind that Das Gupta outlined with communal designation going pronounced. Why is that these events provoked such passion in the diaspora? Why have these events had such a profound influence on the Sikh imaginativeness? Is it simply the graduated table and horror of the events that saw many 1000s of Sikhs killed in the Delhi pogroms and the ostracization of Sikh widows and the displaced community? Surely the human costs during Partition were far greater. It is, I want to propose, the impact of globalization and the communications revolution that immediately brought the full horror and panic of these events into our lives and within the sanctuary of our places ( Sinclair and Cunningham, 2000 ) . It seemed that there was no flight from them. The panic and horror of seeing the holiest place of the Sikhs so blatantly violated and the hurting and torment of the victims of the 1984 Delhi pogroms remains engraved steadfastly in the memory of the Sikh diasporic imaginativeness.


There are two dimensions to germinating Sikh diasporic individualities that are steadfastly anchored in being at place whilst in gesture. These two dimensions are rooted in civilization and dharam or religion. The ways in which Sikh civilization travels and evolves is exemplifying of post-colonial transmutations and mostly dependent on the host civilization every bit good as the merchandise of being portion of either and “ old ” or “ new ” diaspora – that is, being a diaspora that has been forged in either the age of colonization or the age of globalization.

Abdul JanMohamed makes an of import distinction between a “ mirrorlike ” boundary line rational and a “ syncretistic ” 1 that is utile in believing through this debatable. Both types of intellectuals are located in more than one civilization but the syncretistic intellectual is by and large more “ at place ” in both civilizations than his or her mirrorlike opposite number as a consequence of being able to unite the two civilizations and joint new syncretistic experiences. The mirrorlike boundary line rational, on the other manus, is either unwilling or unable to be at place in either civilization. The mirrorlike rational inquiries both civilizations and “ use his or her interstitial cultural infinite as a vantage point from which to specify, implicitly or explicitly, other, Utopian possibilities of group formation ” ( JanMohamed 1992: 97 ) . While it remains to be seen how a Sikh diasporic individuality will be shaped in the hereafter, one thing is clear, this procedure will be played out on a planetary phase as communicating between Sikhs and others throughout the universe is farther revolutionised.

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