Punjab Research Group

Exhumation – The Life and Death of Madan Lal Dhingra (Leena Dhingra)

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on September 2, 2021

Leena Dhingra

Leena Dhingra’s powerful book about her great uncle’s historic act – and her family’s 
displacement by Partition – is now available 

Exhumation – The Life and Death of Madan Lal Dhingra

The interview is available till 18 September at the link below:


Darshan Singh Tatla obituary (by Dr. Eleanor Nesbitt)

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on August 9, 2021

A tribute to the scholar par excellence Dr. Darshan Singh Tatla by Prof. Pritam Singh.

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on July 17, 2021

Obituary: Dr. Darshan Tatla

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on July 6, 2021

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It is with a very heavy heart that I share the sad news that Dr. Darshan Tatla passed away on the morning of 4th July 2021 in Birmingham.

If I had to name one person whose thoughts, feelings, dreams, excitements and disappointments were all linked to Punjab Studies, it was Darshan. With the exception of economics, there is no field of Punjab Studies – politics, history, literature, religion, diaspora etc., etc. – to which he did not make a contribution. He was a walking encyclopedia on the subject. No one studying the Punjab in any corner of the world escaped his attention. He was a great scholar, and a saintly man with a smile on his face even in adversity. His health had not been good for over two decades, but it deteriorated sharply in the last few months. He will be missed very, very sorely.

The members of the Punjab Research Group (PRG) had decided before the outbreak of Covid-19 to honour him with a Lifetime Achievement award for his distinguished contributions. We had hoped to present this award to him in person at one of the PRG conferences once the pandemic was over and he had recovered. This award will now, unfortunately, have to be awarded posthumously.

Darshan’s vision was the prime mover behind the founding of the PRG in April 1984. From its beginnings as a small group of like-minded PhD students in April 1984, the PRG has expanded and become the most well-respected regional study group from South Asia, where established scholars as well as young researchers come together to share their research in a mutually supportive research environment. The PRG’s work contributed to the organisation of the First International Conference on Punjabi Identity in 1994 at Coventry University, at which the first issue of the International Journal of Punjab Studies was also launched. The journal has continued since (as the Journal of Punjab Studies and more recently as the Journal of Sikh and Punjab Studies). The papers presented at the conference were brought together in a book; Punjabi Identity in a Global Context edited by Pritam Singh and Shinder Thandi and published by Oxford University Press in 1999. In 2016, the PRG launched the Best Doctoral Student Presentation Award, consisting of a cash award as well as a certificate, which is given to a doctoral student whose paper is judged to be the best presented at the PRG conference. To date, seven such awards have been given. The PRG will forever remain as a memorial to Darshan’s contribution to its founding and subsequent multi-dimensional development in the early years.

Prof. Pritam Singh
Director, Punjab Research Group

Obituary: Roger Ballard passes away

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on October 3, 2020
Roger Ballard

For those interested in South Asian, diaspora, human rights, anti-racism and Punjab studies, it is a sad news (learnt only a few hours ago) to share that Roger Ballard, an anthropologist, died two days ago. He had been suffering from Parkinson’s for the last few years. Roger gave a keynote address at the first international conference on Punjabi Identity I had convened on behalf of the Association of Punjab Studies (UK) in 1994 at Coventry University. The development of his address into a paper was published as the opening article in the book Punjabi Identity in a Global Context (OUP, 1999, Second Reprint 2015) I co-edited with Shinder Thandi. That paper ‘Panth, Kismet, Dharm te Qaum: Continuity and Change in Four Dimensions of Punjabi Religion’ remains a seminal paper in the field of religious/Punjab Studies. Roger also spoke at the launch of the book at the British parliament (House of Commons). He was an active participant in the development of the Punjab Research Group in its initial years in the 1980s and 1990s. His book Desh Pardesh: The South Asian Presence in Britain remains a seminal work in the field. He was a very friendly and caring person too. When I was editing the Punjabi Identity book, he wrote to me along with sending the final version of his article: don’t work too hard, do take some rest during the Christmas break. I pay tribute to his many dimensional contributions and will share, if I get, more information about funeral/memorial meeting. We would certainly think of honoring and remembering him at the Punjab Research Group.

Prof. Pritam Singh (Wolfson College, University of Oxford)
Director Punjab Research Group

The Sikh Next Door – An identity in Transition by Manpreet J Singh

Posted in News/Information, Research by rsmaan on October 3, 2020

The Sikh Next Door – An identity in Transition by Manpreet J Singh was published by Bloomsbury, India (Academic) last month. 

It traces the community’s transition into its heterogeneous, mutating, urban identities within India and outside. In doing so it moves out of the agricultural and martial tropes and analyzes Sikhs in their real -life contexts in urban lives. It brings into frame the trader/professional classes, those changed through interaction with other cultures, the Dalit Sikhs, to see how the changing contexts are re-shaping the community dynamics. It also creates a focus on Sikh women to trace their growth into contemporary urban structures.

The work also analyzes how others respond to the community, particularly in urban spheres. It discusses tropes of otherness reflected in humour, cinematic representations and social attribution in normal times, and violent responses like that of 1984 in India in times of crises. The book rounds off with a broad analysis of how the current generation of Sikhs is engaging with their religious and social identities.

Available from:

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30 Minute Expert – Sikhism

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on July 3, 2020

Facebook Live Webinar: The caste nexus and women’s liberation (in Punjabi) – by Prof. Dr. Meena Dhanda (Wolverhampton University, UK)

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on June 26, 2020


Facebook Live Webinar: The caste nexus and women’s liberation (in Punjabi)

Professor Meena Dhanda will engage in a live discussion with a women activists’ group Wajood (Being) on the link between caste and gender.
Saturday 27 June 2020 (1:30pm BST; 6pm IST)

Caste atrocities have intensified and domestic violence is on the increase during the global crisis caused by the pandemic. It was reported a couple of months ago that the Punjab government has found a 21% increase in calls by women to the domestic violence helpline. Is there any link between the caste nexus and the position of women in Punjabi society?

Dr Meena Dhanda (Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Politics) will explain the complex relation between caste and gender in a Facebook Live Webinar.

The discussion followed by an audience Q&A will be mainly conducted in Meena’s mother tongue Punjabi. The title of the programme in transliterated Punjabi is: Jaat Vyavastha Atay Aurat Mukti. The organisers are a group of energetic social activists. Their group uniquely named Wajood (Being/Existence) is convened by a post-graduate from Oxford University, Nikita Azaad.

Set up during the pandemic, this group has commenced a set of open dialogues on identity, sexuality, relationships and much else.

Tune in to: https://www.facebook.com/punjabandgender/?hc_location=ufi

For further information contact Professor Meena Dhanda by email:M.Dhanda@wlv.ac.uk.

Talk flyer

The Colonial and Post Colonial Economic Policies in the Making of Two Punjabs by Prof. Pritam Singh

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on June 19, 2020

An appeal from award-winning author, Aanchal Malhotra, for Punjabis to get in touch if you’re interested in this project

Posted in Diaspora, News/Information by rsmaan on June 18, 2020


An appeal from award-winning author, Aanchal Malhotra, for Punjabis to get in touch if you’re interested in this project:

The Punjabis. I have recently been commissioned to work on a history of Punjabi people. The Punjabis are a complex community, no longer bound by geography, but by an unspoken ethos, and are now spread vastly across the subcontinent and in the diaspora of the world. They are a populace constantly evolving, expanding and enduring; a versatile, adaptable, varied community, whose ethos of Punjabiyat extends beyond a fixed geography.

The Punjabis is a study of the peoples that can trace their origins to the land of the five rivers. As an oral historian, I am interested in the personal and familial stories connected to Punjabi history, identity, ethnicity, race, geography, language, religion, community, diaspora, family life and relationships, culture, literature, folklore, mythology, and food.

Aanchal’s email address is aanchal@aanchalmalhotra.com

Here’s a page from Aanchal’s website, where you can see the kinds of things she writes about – https://www.aanchalmalhotra.com/writing/

Remnants of Partition is an oral history archive and the first study of material culture carried across the border during the Partition. It was shortlisted for the British Academy’s 2019 Nayef Al Rodhan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, and several other awards in India. Even though the book has been published for a few years now, I am still continuing the research to record stories of objects – however small or large – people carried with them across the border to both sides in 1947.

Anchal book _EN

UKPHA: Virtual Bookclub meetings

Posted in Conferences, Diaspora, News/Information, sikhs by rsmaan on June 16, 2020

A message from UKPHA about their superb webinar series:

As a result of the pandemic restrictions we began to offer the Sikh and Punjabi community a virtual social and cultural opportunity to engage with authors, podcasters, academics and museum curators. We call this a ‘Virtual Bookclub’ and it meets every Monday at 5pm. It provides an opportunity for the community to engage with a heritage expert and discuss their work. It provides an important cultural outlet which is lacking due to social restrictions. Asians are especially affected to COVID19 both medically and as many are living in extended families with older members identified as vulnerable and choose not to leave their homes at all.
Every Monday at 5pm (UK). You can see our forthcoming schedule here : http://www.ukpha.org/bookclub

Punjab Research Group ‘Punjab: Past, Present, Future’ Punjab Research Group Conference, October 26, 2019 (Wolfson College, Oxford)

Posted in News/Information by rsmaan on October 23, 2019

09.00- 09.15: Registration

09.15- 09.20: Welcome address: Professor Pritam Singh, Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, Oxford

09.20-10.50: Session I. Religion, ecology and culture
Chair: Prof. Pritam Singh
09.20-09.40: Reconstructing power? Male middle-class anxieties in a changing Pakistan
Cecilie Mueenuddin, University of Oxford, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

09.40-10.00: Ecological Concerns in Select Punjabi Fiction
Sumandeep Kaur, Research Scholar, Department of English, Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab – India

10.00-10.20: The Political Philosophy of Guru Nanak and Its Contemporary Relevance
Sujinder Singh Sangha Dr., Former Principal & CEO Stockton Riverside College, UK

10.20-10.50: Discussion

10.50-11.10: Tea/Coffee Break

11.10-12.40: Session II. Gender studies
Chair: Dr. Karima Brooke, Artist, Poet and Associate Lecturer, Oxford Brookes University

11.10-11.30: Feminist reflections in contemporary Punjabi cinema
Avneet Kaur Bhatia, Phd Scholar Manav Rachna International University, Faridabad Haryana India

11.30-11.50: Helena Blavatsky, Dorothy Field and Annie Besant: Theosophy’s role in introducing Sikhism to the West
Eleanor Nesbitt, Professor Emeritus, Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, Centre for Educational Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry

11.50-12.10: Identity and Empowerment Patterns among Sikh women in the UK
Monika Gupta, Research Scholar, PHD, Centre for European Studies, School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi and Commonwealth Fellow, Visiting Research Student, SOAS, University of London

12.10-12.40: Discussion

12.40-13.10: Introduction with the attendees and group photo
13.15-14.00: Lunch Break
14.15-14.30: Conference Announcements regarding Publications, Scholarships and Research Projects

14.30-16:00: Session III. Development and health studies
Chair: Prof. Eleanor Nesbitt

14:30-14:50: Changing Pattern of Diseases and Public Health Care in Indian Punjab
Gurjeet Kaur, Ph.D Scholar, Department of Economics, Punjabi University Patiala, Punjab, India

14:50-15:10: Bleeding in the Time of Empire: Punjabi Women and the Medicalisation of Menstruation
Nikita Arora, MSc History of Science Medicine and Technology, University of Oxford

15:10-15:30: Combatting Extremism through Punjabi Folklore
Dr. Munir Gujjar, Department of Urdu & Oriental Languages, University of Sargodha, Punjab, Pakistan

15.30- 16.00: Discussion

16.00-16.30: Tea/Coffee Break

16.30-18.00: Session IV. Exploring fault lines: new and old
Chair: Gurnam Singh, Associate Professor of Equity of Attainment, Coventry University and Visiting Fellow in Race and Education, University of the Arts, London.

16.30-16.50: Exploring Oral Histories of Female Diasporic Voices on 1984
Poonam Sandhu, MSc student in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, Oxford Department of International Development, University of Oxford

16.50-17.10: Punjab falling apart: crossing the river of fire
Dr. Saima Iram, Professor of Urdu literature, Government College University, Lahore and currently associated with The School of Cultural Anthropology, Oxford University, Oxford

17.10-17.30: Punjab’s Scavenger tribe and the third coming of Christianity, 1860-1930
Abraham Akhter Murad, Masters by Research Student
Royal Holloway, University of London

17.30-18.00: Discussion

18:00-18.15: Deliberation on/Announcement of Best Presenter Award

18.15-18:20: Vote of Thanks
Professor Pritam Singh, Conference Director

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