The politics of homeland : a study of the ethnic linkages and political mobilisation amongst Sikhs in Britain and North America
The transnational activities of migrant groups have become a major issue in recent decades. This study offers an analysis of overseas Sikhs' involvement in Punjab issues; especially concentrating on post-1984 period, when a vigorous support and mobilisation by overseas Sikhs for a 'homeland' has led to diplomatic strains between the Government of India and some of the states with large Sikh migrant population. This study concentrates upon the mobilisation among Sikh migrant groups in Canada, the United States and Great Britain -three countries which account for over three quarter of overseas Sikh population. The issue of 'homeland' among displaced minorities and migrant groups has usually been studied as a diasporic phenomenon. In a theoretical formulation preceding this study, the term diaspora and recent contributions to extend its scope to all such migrant groups who were neither forced out of their homelands nor had continuous historic connections is critically examined. Rejecting the wider definition advocated by more recent contributors to extend this term to any migrant group which maintains some connections with their land of origins, a case is made for only those migrant groups which are essentially involved in a demand for a secure and independent 'homeland' to be part of 'diaspora studies' Proceeding with migration history and experiences of Sikhs in Britain, Canada and the United States, the study explores the persistence and continuation of cultural and religious practices derived from their land of origins. Noting that neither the homeland for Sikhs was an unambiguous term till recently nor were they forced out from their homes, Sikh migrant groups provide an interesting but problematic example of transnational ethnic linkages. The next two chapters analyze the social, cultural and political links with the Punjab. The study then provides a description and analysis of Sikh mobilisation as a reaction to dramatic events in the Punjab in June 1984. The last chapter situates overseas Sikh mobilisation as a reaction to a crisis which has fermented some new elements of ethnic consciousness with consequent bearing upon the group identity and political mobilisation within overseas Sikh migrant groups. It also notes the impact of overseas Sikh mobilisation on the transnational relationship of concerned states and their respective policies towards Sikh migrant groups. This study of overseas Sikhs provides an interesting case of transnational politics where a crucial event in a migrant groups' home country could perceptibly shift their political loyalty towards an imaginary homeland, and how in the process, their land of origin becomes a 'threatened homeland' . The study thus illustrates the limitation of the existing analytical concepts dealing with the behaviour of migrant groups whose attachments to their roots are principally triggered into a virulent form of mobilisation due to a traumatic event in their religious centre. The study draws upon a wide range of sources including interviews with leading participants, and a thorough examination of ethnic Purijabi media of the United States, Canada and Great Britain. In addition it takes account of the growing body of secondary materials associated with the study of Sikhs in the Punjab.