Territory and the Definition of Being Sikh

Anne Murphy

in The Materiality of the Past

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199916276
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980253 | DOI:
Territory and the Definition of Being Sikh

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The Gurdwara Reform Act changed the way that colonial governance interacted with always-evolving definitions of being Sikh. The definition of being Sikh was connected in the Act to the designation of the historical gurdwara, and therefore to the designation of a landscape of the Sikh past articulated through this institution and its control, as well as to the definition of the Sikh community and Sikh individuals who comprise it. It is through this that we see the linking of a particular kind of territoriality with the articulation of what it means to be Sikh, and with the inscription of being Sikh into the past. In this formula, identity, land, and history were linked in political and administrative terms. This built upon but also transformed existing ideas of the past and its representation in material and geographical forms that were engaged in diverse ways since the beginning of the eighteenth century, and caused a change in the way the past is imagined in material terms. Objects, which accompanied sites as a part of a historical imaginary that constructed the community of Sikhs as a web of relationships, occupy a less prominent place in a memorial landscape mapped onto territory.

Keywords: Gurdwara Reform Act; colonial governance; Sikh identity; historical gurdwara; past; territoriality

Chapter.  10724 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sikhism

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