Punjab Research Group

Sikhs in Latin America

Posted in Diaspora, News/Information, sikhs by Pippa on November 26, 2014

ROAD TO MANDALAY – SIKHS IN BURMA by Swarn Singh Kahlon

Posted in Articles, Diaspora, Migration by Pippa on July 30, 2014

Based on Travels of Swarn Singh Kahlon, December, 2011

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

 

THE ROMANCE OF BURMA

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!”

 

AND THE SECOND

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

New Publication on Sikh Studies: Diaspora: A Journal for Transnational Studies

Posted in Academic Journals, Diaspora, Migration, New Publications, News/Information, sikhs by gsjandu on April 9, 2014
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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:

http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/H6IWCVbBWST4qJK3xxmw/full

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

Parminder, a Cosmopolitan

Posted in Diaspora, Film, Migration by Pippa on January 3, 2014

Notes to accompany the film on Parminder: A Cosmopolitan

The film has resonated with people across the world and went on to twitter and many face book pages. It has been viral via university and other sites across Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, and other transnational sites across the diaspora. It will used on courses at University of California campuses at Berkeley, Riverside, and also Santa Barbara in Ethnic and Diversity Studies, and also on Global Diasporas. This film’s impact much beyond the Clark University media class for which it was made is as much a surprise to Parminder, as it is to the film maker, for whom many opportunities have emerged to make other films, though with much longer time formats than 9 minute length of this film.

Jonathan Dana, the talented young film maker is 20 years old. He was awarded a prestigious Clinton Media Fellowship last year and worked in New York at the Clinton Foundation. His work was greatly admired by Hilary Clinton and it is now on her official site. He is the son of an eminent cinematographer.

Parminder was a fellow graduate student with me at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the late 70s. She received her Ph.D. in 1981 and has since authored four books, the latest of which is Dangerous Designs. Her current work is on diasporic creativity and innovation, a theme on which she is currently writing a book.

I hope that some of you will watch the film. A number of us already know Parminder well, both from her time in the British academy, and since her migration to the USA in 1990, firstly to UCLA, and then to Clark University in Massachusetts. She held a prestigious Henry R. Luce Professorship in Cultural Identities and Global Processes for 9 years at Clark, before moving into the Sociology Department there in 2000, which has been her departmental home for the past 13 years.

It is a pleasure for me to see a member of the Punjab Research Group being celebrated across the world, especially as she is of the pioneering generation of British Asian, and indeed now Asian American intellectuals of the diaspora, whose academic work focuses on the Punjabi migrants and their multiple diasporas. She has been in the USA now for 24 years, which is longer than any other site in which she has been lived in the past.

I have included below a link to the film. As stated above, you can also watch it on You Tube on Jonathan Dana’s site, entitled Parminder: A Cosmopolitan.

Dr. Shinder S. Thandi, Coventry University, Founding Member of the Journal of Punjab Studies

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The Unsung Indian Hero of Kenya

Posted in Articles, Diaspora, Migration by Pippa on January 2, 2014

Makhan SinghPublished in The Tribune 25 December 2013

Following link for full article http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/203331/The-Tribune/TT_25_December_2013#page/19/2

Makhan Singh not only organised the labour movement in Kenya, but also raised the slogan of total independence of the country. He remained in prison for 16 years. But the contribution of this valiant son of Punjab remains unknown in Kenya as well as in India.

WHEN I visited Kenya for the first time in 2005 as an educationist, it was inconceivable then that I would soon be writing a play on an unsung Indian hero Makhan Singh, who had migrated from Punjab in 1927, organised the labour movement of the country, became the first person to call for total freedom from the colonial rule, remained under detention for 16 years and was the first leader to be arrested and the last to be released after independence. If about 20 readings of the play Mungu Comrade in India, England and Canada attracted hundreds of people, who were riveted to the spoken action, it was not the magic of writing; they were actually enchanted by the mesmerizing protagonist who has rightly been termed as a “totally unadulterated idealist”. Dr. Fitz De Souza, Deputy Speaker of Kenya’s first National Assembly said about him, “he wouldn’t compromise his principles on anything.”

He was born on December 27, 1913 in Gharjakh, a town near Gujranwala (Pakistan) in the family of Sudh Singh who went to Kenya in 1920, about two decades after the British took Indian labour to Kenya to lay the railway track from Mombasa to Kisumu to feed their commercial needs. In the 16th century the Portuguese had also imported workers from the then colony of theirs, Goa, to help build the coastal Fort Jesus. But it was in the last years of the 19th century when 37,000 workers and petty tradesmen were introduced from Punjab and Gujarat for the line that is termed by the African tribes and subsequently by Robert Hardy as The Iron Snake. The slithering of this ‘snake’, passing through the dense forests took life of about 2,500 workmen; roughly four persons per mile of the track. Another 6,500 were injured seriously. We have seen this terrain in the film made on the first-hand accounts written by John Henry Patterson in Man Eaters of Tsavo.

cfp: Punjabi Diaspora Conference at Patiala, February 3-5, 2014

Posted in Conferences, Diaspora, News/Information by Pippa on January 2, 2014

The Punjabi University is holding a major three-day conference on the Punjabi Diaspora at its campus on February 3-5, 2014. Organised by the Punjabi Department, the main focus of the conference is an exploration of multiple connections of the Punjabi Diaspora to its land of origins, starting from the late nineteenth century to the present era.

While the new technology, especially internet has helped to make the relationship of global Diasporas and their lands of origins, lively, complex and more intense, the study of the multidimensional exchange between the Punjabi Diaspora and its homeland presents severe challenges and issues. In the case of overseas Sikhs, as several scholarly studies have underlined, there has been a close linkages from the late nineteenth century to the present; this became especially problematic in the 1980s after the traumatic events in the Indian Punjab. A fierce debate ensued on the issue of Sikh minority in India and continues to draw attention of a large part of the Sikh Diaspora – which constitutes a major section of Punjabis abroad. This immediately alerts us to the question: what about the Punjabi Hindus and other smaller sections of the Punjabi Diaspora, how they relate to the land of their origins; and what about Muslim Punjabis from West Punjab in Pakistan?

This is just one dimension of the set of questions that await thorough analysis by experts. We also know how the Punjabi Diaspora has enriched the Punjab economy [both in India and Pakistan], through remittances and contributed to social capital by several philanthropic projects.  The Punjabi Diaspora is also a major site of Punjabi creative literature –what are its salient features? How does the Punjabi Diaspora relate to host societies through its imagined word-maps? Then there is related question of Punjabi language –how does the Punjabi Diaspora maintain its home language and impart to its new generations?  How does it draw upon the land of origins in such an endeavour? Similar questions arise as far the reproduction issues of various religious traditions among the Punjabi Diaspora.

Thus, besides welcoming papers addressed to fundamental theoretical question of the idea of ‘homeland,’ among the Punjabi Diaspora, contributors are encouraged to explore multi-dimensional ways overseas Punjabi communities relate to the land of their origins; Papers on any aspect of such connections through economic, cultural, religious and political linkages are welcome as also exploration of the kind of debates among the Punjabi Diaspora through the media as it has undergone vast change from earlier newspapers exchanges to extensive discussions via websites and cyberspace.

Here is a summary of themes for papers:

A. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: Where is Home? Idea of Homeland and Problematic of Country

B. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: Creative Spaces and shared linkages through Literary Productions

C. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora:  The Economic Exchange: Philanthropy and Developmental issues

D. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: Political Linkages, Role and Tensions

E. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: The Gender Dimension

F. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: The Print Media and Radio

G. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: New Forms of communication and debates: Cyberspace and Websites

H. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: On Linguistic Exchanges: Erosion, Consolidation and Challenges

I. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: The Cultural Dimension

J. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: The Punjabi Family, Generational Conflict, Reproduction of Culture

K. Home and the Punjabi Diaspora: The Religious interconnections: The role of Pilgrimage and other forms of Exchange

The University will provide usual facilities for contributors, free board and lodging including travel assistance up to Patiala campus for all participants from other states of India, and in the case of foreign participants’ return fare for railway passage from New Delhi airport to Patiala.

Please contact with the title of your paper and an abstract by 15 January:

Prof. Lakhvir Singh, Convenor Seminar and Head, PunjabI Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab, India

Email: punjabidiasporaconference@gmail.com; Phone: 00 91 -98728-60245

Autar Dhesi – Some Writings in England

Posted in Articles, Diaspora, News/Information by gsjandu on August 29, 2013

dhesi

A Southall man who came to Britain in 1958 with a BSc in Natural Science from Punjab University, was awarded his Ph.D. in national economic planning from the University of Birmingham, on Friday.
He is Mr. Autar Singh Dhesi of 176 Regina Road, Southall.
Mr. Dhesi won a post-graduate diploma in Development Administration at Leeds in 1966. Two years later, he was awarded an M.Sc. in International Economics at Surrey University. In 1971 he qualified for a M.Soc.Sc. degree at Birmingham University, where he won a Research Council Scholarship in Social Sciences. In between he taught at Coventry University.
Mr. Dhesi was secretary of Southall Indian Worker’s Association for many years, and joint secretary of the National India Defence Fund Committee. He was a founder member of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination.
In 1963, he was the first Indian from Southall to be invited to the Queen’s Garden party.

(Published in Middlesex County Times (London), July 19, 1974)

Below are some of the author’s writings kindly received at the PRG from the Punjab University.

Student Graffiti by A. Dhesi

a.dhesi prg (pdf)

Researching Wedding Photography in Birmingham: request for contacts

Posted in Diaspora, Networking, Photography, Research, sikhs by santhyb on December 17, 2012
I’m a doctoral candidate in visual anthropology at University of Oxford, and a contributor to the PRG blog. This is to seek your assistance in setting up my fieldwork. My research looks at wedding photography as a mode of representation amongst the Sikh diaspora in the UK. If you have contacts in Birmingham, especially amongst the Sikh community in Birmingham so I can meet someone even if it is for an informal chat, I’d love to hear from you. Since it is an anthropology project I plan to conduct fieldwork involving interviews and participant observation with wedding photographers covering Sikh weddings. It would be wonderful if you know anyone who does Asian wedding photography and would be interested in collaborating/ being interviewed for the project. I’d also love to talk to engaged and newly-wed couples about their wedding ceremonies, wedding albums, how they chose their photographer etc. I would be grateful for any ideas as to how to make contacts so I can attend a few Sikh weddings and get a sense of how the ceremonies are organised and documented via photography and videography.
I’m happy to provide you more details if you can help. My email id is: santhy.balachandran@wolfson.ox.ac.uk
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks,
Santhy
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Unthreatening the Sikh Turban – Reflections of Wisconsin Shootings

Posted in Articles, Diaspora, Film, Migration, News/Information, sikhs by harjant on September 2, 2012

Unthreatening the Sikh Turban – Reflections on Wisconsin Shootings by Harjant S. Gill

[W]e must discourage the use of mistaken identity narrative because to an extremist like…the gunman who carried out the Wisconsin shooting, it matters little if his victims are Sikhs or Muslims. We must denounce all acts of violence against any religious groups. More importantly, we must also hold our politicians,policy makers, political pundits and ourselves responsible for creating a climate of hostility and hate… read more: Anthropology-News.org

Call for Papers: Special issue on Imagining Punjab and the Punjabi Diaspora

Posted in Academic Journals, Diaspora by santhyb on February 17, 2012

A Special Issue of South Asian Diaspora will be published in 2014 on: ‘Imagining Punjab and the Punjabi Diaspora’

Guest Editor: Anjali Gera Roy

South Asian Diaspora invites contributions to this Special Issue that will foreground the region within diaspora studies through focusing on Punjab, a land-locked region divided between India and Pakistan in 1947. The special issue will explore the importance of the home village/town/city, language and culture rather than the nation for many Punjabis living in the diasporas as well as for those displaced by the 1947 Partition, and will contribute to broader debates on transnationalism, postnationalism, micronationalism, and
new identity narratives emerging in the twenty first century. Papers will focus on Punjab as an ethno-spatial complex, a social form and a type of consciousness, and will address the ways in which multiple imaginings of Punjab as a site of diasporic nostalgia and longing produce inclusive as well as exclusionary narratives of self, home and community. Drawing on historical and post-colonial understandings of the region across a wide range of locations and disciplines, the papers will explore the importance of Punjab, Punjabi language and Punjabi culture in diasporic imagination, memory, identity, and everyday practices. By investigating the meanings of Punjab and Punjabiyat in the past and the present, the special issue will contribute to understandings of postnational formations within a South Asian context.

All invited and contributed manuscripts to this special issue will be peer reviewed. For guidelines of how to prepare the manuscript, please visit the journal website: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rsad
Manuscripts for the Special Issue should be submitted no later than 31 March 2013. Submission of manuscripts through electronic mail (preferably as MS Word attachment) to Anjali Gera Roy (anjali@hss.iitkgp.ernet.in) is especially encouraged. Alternatively,
please submit three printed copies and an electronic version (MS Word format on a floppydisk or a CD) of the manuscript to:

Professor Anjali Gera Roy
Department of Humanities & Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology
Kharagpur – 721 302
INDIA
Phone : +91 3222 283616       (O);  +91 3222 283617       (R)

Fax : +91 3222 282270 (O)
http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/cfp/rsadcfp.pdf

www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754658238

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Sikhs in Latin America by Swarn Singh Kahlon

Posted in Diaspora, New Publications by Pippa on December 30, 2011

A NEW BOOK ON SIKH DIASPORA

For the first time,an effort has been made to complete the Sikh Diaspora map by covering Latin American countries.Case studies on

Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and other countries.

The book is now available from Manohar Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi.

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