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Textures Of The Sikh Past - Book By Tony Ballantyne

Introduction To 'Textures of The Sikh Past' By Tony Ballantyne

Focusing on new directions in Sikh and Punjab studies, this volume offers fresh perspectives on Sikh culture and history. Discussing contemporary developments affecting Sikhs around the world, it provides a contextualized study of how modern Sikhism has evolved with particular attention to historical documents, changes in the colonial period, and the varied yet interwined experiences of Sikhs in the diaspora.

This valuable collection addresses a wide variety of themes including Sikh textual tradition and popular culture, operation of  social Hierarchies, local histories, transformation of Punjab under British rule, and other social issues that concern the Panth as a whole. The essays are united by a deep concern with the 'Texture' of Sikh history- the ways in which space, time, social structures and political systems have shaped the development of the Panth. They also investigate the forces, processes, and structures that have conditioned Sikh history.

In bringing together this range of carefully researched perspectives, this book not only offers a compelling manifestation of the complex fabric of Sikh history, but also identifies new approaches that will provide vantage points for further research with contributions from prominent scholars, this book will interest students and scholars of Sikh studies, South Asia Studies, sociology and politics, as well as the informed lay reader.

Tony Ballantyne is Senior Lecturer in History, University of Otago, New Zealand.


Preface To 'Textures Of The Sikh Past' By Tony Ballantyne

The chapters in this volume emerged out of the symposium hosted by the university of Otago's Department and Asian Studies Research Centre at St Margaret's college in December 2003. Early in 2003, it was decided to shift this event from Santa Barbara to New Zealand after it became clear that W.H. (HEW) McLeod was not well enough at that point to travel overseas. In mid-December 2003, 25 scholars travelled from around the world to meet in Dunedin, joining members of the local University, the Punjabi communities, and the McLeod family. The symposeum's theme was 'New Directions in Sikh and Punjab Studies' and over three days, many papers were shared and there was robust discussion of the new  research and the existing historiography.

The volume grows out of the symposium and, like that gathering, it has two-fold purpose. First, the chapters gathered here are reflective in nature. In their own way, each offers an assessment of Sikh studies as it stands today, but also looks forward and offers new perspectives on Sikh culture and history. Second, the symposium and this volume are a recoginition and celebration of the tremendous contribution of Hew McLeod to the field of Sikh studies.  A pioneering scholar in the field and now its elder statesman, Hew's influence has shaped the development of Sikh studies in a multitude of ways. His scholarship has blazed new paths and there is no doubt that his substantial oeuvre has radically transformed how we understand Sikh history. But he has also been a great mentor, friend, teacher, referee, examiner and reader. Never dogmatic, Hew has watched Sikh studies  grow and encouraged a wide range of scholars to follow their interests in a myriad directions. The Otago symposium provided an opportunity to reflect on Hew's momentous contribution and to hear about his ongoing research (which is included in this volume).

This volumes bring together 11 chapters that have been expanded from the initial papers presented in Dunedin. While Verne Dusenbery, Mark Juergensmeyer, Ainslee Embree, Shinder Singh Thandi, and Rashmere Bhatti have not contributed to the collection, there presence was crucial to the success of his gathering. Each of these scholars will see at their work and participation at Otago has imprinted the chapters that follow. It is important to note that some scholars who wished to participate in this symposium were unable to attend for various reason. It was especially sad that both Professor J.S.Grewal and Professor Indu Banga, two scholars who have profoundly shaped both Punjabi and Sikh historiography, were unable to travel to New Zealand. We also greatly missed Gurinder Singh Mann, who had to withdraw from the conference at the last minute.  Gurinder was a moving force behind the conclave and his impetus to this project is greatly appreciated.

As the organizer of the symposium. I greatfully acknowledge the support of the History Department at Otago as well as the Asian Studies Research Committee in providing the core funding for the event. The British Council was generous in enabling Amrit and Rabinda Kaur Singh's visit to Dunedin. In terms of planning the Symposium, the History Department's support staff were invaluable. Sue lang helped with the arrangements for the gathering and oversaw the finances. while Kyle Matthews and Frances Couch assisted in preparing the printed materials for the speakers. Karen Henderson, the events manager at St Margaret's, ensured that the three days went smoothly. The mayor of Dunedin, Sukhi Turner, was also a generous host to the visiting speakers and their families. In her official capacity, she opened the symposium and also hosted a reception for the participants and members of Dunedin's South Asians community. That reception was a very special occasion where members of the Otago Sikh community presented Hew with a paunamu plaque which was engraved with the Khanda. In combining distinctive symbols of New Zealand and the Panth, this gift was a special recoginition  of the ways in which  Hew has brought New Zealand and Punjab together, and these chapters are also offered in that same spirit of celebration.


Table Of Contents For 'Textures Of The Sikh Past' Book By Tony Ballantyne




Page No





          Tony Ballantyne


Hew Mcleod and the Development of Sikh Studies



Vanjara Pothi: A New Source in the Formation of the Sikh Canon

    Pashaura Singh


The Two Lives of Bhai Nand Lal 'Goya'

    Louis E, Fenech


Sikhs and Caste

   W.H. McLeod


The Dalit Sikhs: A History?

   John C.B. Webster


British Rule, Technological Change, and the Revolution in Transportation and Communication: Punjab in the Later Nineteenth Century

   LanJ. Kerr 


Punjab and the Sikhs through the Prism of Plague

   Lan Catanach


Sikhism in Orrisa: From the World of the Nanakpanthis to the Domain of the Khalsa

   Himadri Banerjee


Bhangra and the Project of Sikh Studies

    Tony Ballantyne


Tradition and History: Modern Communication and 'Sikh-Diaspora'

   N.G. Barrier


Sikhism and the Visual Arts Amrit and Rabindra Kaur Singh


Notes on Contributors



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