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The Sikh Diaspora in Australia: Migration, Multiculturalism and the Imagining of Home

McCarthy, Rory G. (2013) The Sikh Diaspora in Australia: Migration, Multiculturalism and the Imagining of Home. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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When studying a diasporic population, understanding the relationship between dispersed peoples and their cultural homelands can be instructive. Scholars of diaspora have long understood that a relationship exists between a diaspora, and its place of origin. This dissertation approaches the question of connections between population and homeland from a perspective of emotion and nostalgia, asking how differing generations of Sikhs living in Australia think, talk and feel about their cultural homeland of Punjab. These connections to Punjab are filtered through shifting discourse on immigration and ideas of belonging that exist in Australia. Ethnographic research was conducted in Woolgoolga, New South Wales, Australia, over a period of nice months. Family migration narratives were collected from Sikhs living there, who were divided into two age groups- those 35 years of age and under, and those between the ages of 36 and 55. The purpose of this division is to replicate approximate generations of Sikhs, for the comparison of attitudes and experiences with Punjab. Informal and semi-structured interviews were conducted, and participant observation was done at Woolgoolga’s two Sikh gurdwaras, at meetings held during the organizational phase of a major Indian cultural festival, and at various activities and events held in town throughout the course of the field stay. Data collected shows that there is generational variation in the degree of emotional attachment to Punjab as a perceived cultural homeland. At the same time, there is generational difference in the understanding of recent political history in Punjab, and Sikh struggles for an independent state of Khalistan. Where older generations of Sikhs hold a much stronger connection to Punjab at the level of emotion and nostalgia, they tend to be more critical of the idea of an independent Sikh state. Conversely, younger generations of Sikhs demonstrate much less emotional connection to Punjab, and have little knowledge about the independence movement for Khalistan. Those who are familiar with the Khalistani movement have romanticized notions about the struggle, and are more likely to support claims that Sikhs are mistreated in India, and require their own state.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McCarthy, Rory
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairAlter, Josephjsalter@pitt.eduJSALTER
Committee MemberChilson, Clarkchilson@pitt.eduCHILSON
Committee MemberConstable, Nicolencgrad@pitt.eduNCGRAD
Committee MemberHayden, Robertrhayden@pitt.eduRHAYDEN
Date: 1 July 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 March 2013
Approval Date: 1 July 2013
Submission Date: 18 April 2013
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 250
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sikhism, Diaspora, Transnationalism, Multiculturalism, Migration, South Asia
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2013 16:14
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2018 05:15

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  • The Sikh Diaspora in Australia: Migration, Multiculturalism and the Imagining of Home. (deposited 01 Jul 2013 16:14) [Currently Displayed]


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