PhD Thesis

Majhail, H.S 2022. THE CONSTRUCTION OF COMPLEX AND DYNAMIC SIKH IDENTITY IN CONTEMPORARY FICTION IN ENGLISH. PhD Thesis Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre, College of Arts, Humanities and Education, University of Derby Department of Humanities
AuthorsMajhail, H.S
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy in Humanities

The Sikh identity politics has existed throughout the Sikh history since its origins in the pre-colonial Punjab of 1469 to the colonial British Raj of India and the present period of world Sikh diaspora, each period projects different challenges and threats that the Sikhs as minorities have encountered and resisted. During the British Raj, Hindus of Arya Samaj targeted the Sikh identity whose attempt to erase Sikhs was resisted. The colonisers also associated the Sikh identity with loyal colonial subjects of the British Empire. Such attempts by society to reduce the identity of Sikhs to various socio-political constructs marginalised the Sikhs.
The focus of this study is to investigate the representation of Sikh identity within contemporary fiction written in English by Sikhs and non-Sikhs after India’s independence in 1947. The aim is to study Sikh identity within different historical contexts of the selected texts, ranging from the post-Second World War pre-independent India to India’s post-independent era including the 1984 Sikh genocide and the Sikh diaspora.
This study argues that the Sikh identity is complex, dynamic, and constantly evolving with time and changes with modernity. The research provides a new approach for analysing Sikh identity and culture, which is found beyond the socially constructed singularities of identity, culture and the ‘Other’. The selected texts are diverse ranging from the contribution of Sikhs in the Second World War to their efforts in the Indian nationalism and the post-colonial world of Sikh diaspora. These diverse narratives are located within different cultural, contemporary, fictional and historical contexts that are related to the Sikhs.
The theoretical and critical approaches that the study engages with are multi-disciplinary, which develops new ways for thinking about the Sikh identity by providing an analytical framework that interweaves postcolonial lens and diaspora scholarship with the Sikh theorisation of identity to articulate a Sikh perspective. It shows that new identities are continuously forming in Sikhs while maintaining connections with their culture and heritage. The notions of home, belonging and identity are challenged where the transforming aspect of Sikh identity becomes a new mode of existence, allowing Sikhs to reconfigure their identities whilst facing the challenges of the contemporary world. This study breaks new grounds as there is currently no critical comparative study that establishes a theoretical and analytical framework for studying Sikh identity through contemporary English literature.

KeywordsSikh notions of home, belonging, homeland, identity, race, ethnicity, male and female subjectivities, Sikh diaspora, displacement, colonial discourse, racist discourse, Eurocentrism, postcolonialism, Sikh culture, religion and heritage.
PublisherCollege of Arts, Humanities and Education, University of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication process dates
Deposited14 Oct 2022
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