Punjab Research Group

The Future of South Asian Collections Conference: UK and South Asia perspectives

Posted in Conferences, Events by gsjandu on February 26, 2014

The Future of South Asian Collections Conference: UK and South Asia perspectives, will take place from Wednesday 30th April to Friday 2nd May 2014 at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

Call for Papers

We welcome proposals for a range of possible contributions. These may be 30 minute plenary papers or an idea for running a 50 minute discussion group. These discussion groups may be organised around a particular theme, include shorter presentations by organisers, or address a particular issue or question that fits with the theme of the conference. Furthermore, if you have ideas for shorter contributions but do not wish to run a discussion session, we will try to fit these into groups based loosely around the above questions and run by members of the host institutions. Please send any proposals to sifaconference.sasia@gmail.com by Sunday 9th March 2014


To book your place at The Future of South Asian Collections Conference: UK and South Asia perspectives, please download and complete a registration form.


Sikhs in Italy: New Publications

Posted in Academic Journals, Articles, Diaspora by gsjandu on February 26, 2014

Barbara Bertolani, an Italian Sociologist has recently authored two publications that include the Sikh Community in Italy. The first is available FREE via the following link:


The second publication is a US book:

Barbara Bertolani, “The Sikhs in Italy: A Growing Heterogeneous and Plural Presence”, in Giordan G. e Swatos W. (eds), Testing Pluralism. Globalizing Belief, Localizing Gods, Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2013 (pp. 75-93). (ISBN 978-90-04-25447-3 hardback; ISBN 978-90-04-25475-6 e-book).

For further info: bertolani.barbara@gmail.com

Class, nation and religion: changing nature of Akali Dal politics in Punjab, India by Pritam Singh

Posted in Articles by Pippa on February 18, 2014

Pritam Singh∗ Faculty of Business, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0SB, UK

Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 2014 Vol. 52, No. 1, 55–77


The Akali Dal is the best organised political party in Punjab and has ruled over Punjab for a longer period than any other political party since the creation of the Punjabi-speaking state in 1966. It articulates aspirations of Punjabi regional nationalism along with trying to protect the interests of the Sikhs as a religious minority in India and abroad. As a part of shaping Punjab’s economic future, it deals with the pressures of Indian and global capitalism. This paper is an attempt to track the multi-faceted pressures of class, religion and nationalism in the way Akali Dal negotiates its politics in Indian federalism.

To read the full article: Class, nation and religion- Changing nature of Akali Dal politics


Posted in Articles, News/Information by Pippa on February 18, 2014


(Based on Travels of Swarn Singh Kahlon, December, 2011)


(Article appeared in The Sikh Review, Kolkata, February, 2014 issue).



There are two romantic poems about Burma;

ONE by Rudyard Kipling (1889-90),

where he tries to relive on return to London his travels in Burma:

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea,

There’s a Burma girl a-settin’, and I know she thinks o’ me;

For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the Temple-bells they say:

“Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!”



By the exiled Mughal King, Bahadur Shah Zafar who immortalised his death in Burma (1862) through the epitaph he wrote on the wall with a burnt stick:

Kitna hai badnaseeb Zafar, dafan ke liye

 do gaz zamin na mili ku e yaar mein”

This was also the period when Sikhs started to migrate to Burma; a country now renamed ‘Myanmar’. The Sikh migration to Burma was an important component of global Sikh migration and remained a popular destination for about six decades.

Many Sikhs have their relatives and friends who still talk about the Burma days even if they have returned permanently since long back. A visit was very tempting especially as my wife’s mother was born and grew up in that country.  Whenever my mother-in-law and her sisters had some confidences to share they would shift to speaking Burmese even after their return three decades ago.

Read full article: Road to Mandalay

International Conference on History of Nonviolent Civil Resistance in Pakistan

Posted in Conferences, News/Information by Pippa on February 18, 2014

International Conference on History of Nonviolent Civil Resistance in Pakistan

Organised by Institute of Peace and Diplomacy (IPD) and Hanns-Seidel-Foundation in collaboration with History Department, University of Warwick and The Leverhulme Trust, UK

27-28 February 2014

Venue : Hotel Margalla Islamabad

Please see attachments for further information about the conference:

Islamabad-Conference Concept Note-Final-1

Program NonViolence Conference Feb 2014-1-1

cfp: PRG meeting June 27-28, Coventry University

Posted in Conferences, PRG Meetings by Pippa on February 17, 2014

This year marks the 30th anniversary since the Punjab Research Group was founded. The idea of PRG was first floated at a conference in March/April 1984 on “Communal Harmony in Punjab” following discussions among a small group of like-minded people. The PRG was established on the basis that it would be inclusive and all-embracing in issues pertaining to the three Punjabs (East, West and the Diaspora). During the past 30 years the PRG has provided space for academics to interact with each other regardless of territorial or disciplinary boundaries. This is especially important given the often strained relationship between India and Pakistan which has prevented academic discourse to take place between scholars in East and West Punjab. When the group started in 1984 its activities were radical and pioneering in furthering regional studies, an area only beginning to emerge. The PRG has continued to meet two to three times a year at various universities across the UK to allow for broad participation.

Ten years later the PRG launched the International Journal of Punjab Studies at a major conference on Punjab Studies in Coventry, 1994. Now know as the Journal of Punjab Studies, the journal provides important space for the Punjabi Diaspora and Punjab Studies and has been successfully running for the past 20 years.

To mark this milestone in the Group’s history we have teamed up with Dr Churnjeet Mahn, University of Surrey, and are planning a two-day conference. The public event will be funded by the AHRC project, ‘A Punjabi Palimpsest: Cultural Memory and Amnesia at the Aam Khas Bagh’. This project has looked at the conservation of Mughal-era buildings in Sikh-dominated Punjab, especially in terms of contested heritage and memory. A website connected to the project can be found here: http://thegtroad.com/

The theme for the conference will therefore focus on Memory; we invite people to present papers which are either reflective in their approach regarding Punjab Studies and/or draw on the themes and role of collective or social memory in Punjab. This can be broadly interpreted and we particularly welcome papers from young emerging scholars. A selection of the papers presented during this conference will be published in a special edition of the Journal of Punjab Studies and edited by Pippa Virdee and Churnjeet Mahn.

Date: 27-28 June 2014
Venue: Coventry University

Please send proposals and abstracts by 15 April to pvirdee@dmu.ac.uk.

Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten by Rajmohan Gandhi

Posted in New Publications, News/Information, Partition by Pippa on February 17, 2014

Indian Memory Project

Posted in Art, Digital resources, Photography by Pippa on February 17, 2014

The Indian Memory Project is a wonderful resource which features the Visual & Oral history of the Indian Subcontinent via family archives. Please follow the links to read the full text and see the pictures. These are just a selection of material relating to Punjab.

An avid sportswoman who managed several teams during the Asian Games 1982 – http://www.indianmemoryproject.com/95/

Parveen Kaur (Arora) was born in the small hill town of Mussoorie, India in 1952. The ‘Arora’ family originally belonged to Rawalpindi, (now Pakistan), and moved to Mussourie during the Indo-Pak partition.

She served as an ad-hoc at Lady Irwin College and also had a brief stint at Miranda House. She finally got a permanent job at S.G.T.B. Khalsa College, University of Delhi in 1981. A year later, she became the manager of several teams at the Asian Games in 1982 which she believed was a great honour at her age. She also got married in 1984, a turbulent year marked with Anti-Sikh riots. The story of  how they survived the riots is another long one indeed.

She passed away, on February 4, 2011 and is fondly remembered by all the faculty, friends and family as one of the most zealous, interesting women and sports personalities of her time. The college has now instituted two yearly awards for ‘Outstanding Sports Person’ in her name.

The cockerel-fighter from Punjab who became one of Africa’s greatest cameramen – http://www.indianmemoryproject.com/109/

Looking back over the 80 years, I wonder how, as a simple village boy from Punjab who never even finished school, did I end up in Africa, dodging bullets to make a living from shooting hundreds of kilometres of film in some of the world’s most dangerous regions.

I come from the proud martial family of the Sikhs. I do not know the exact date of my birth, although my passport says 25 October 1931, Baburpur, Punjab. At the time, births were not registered, and parents habitually exaggerated the ages of their children in order to get them into school early and so have their own hands free during the day. Baburpur, formerly called Retla (the place of sand), was renamed after Mughal Emperor Babur who had reportedly camped near our village for a few weeks.

The only non-white students of the batch – http://www.indianmemoryproject.com/118/

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