MA Research Paper

Degree

Master of Arts

Program

Sociology

Supervisor

Dr. Anton Allahar

Abstract

Romanticized visions of Khalistan became emotively embedded in the hearts and minds of Sikh-Canadians following the execution of Operation Blue Star. Today, insurgents residing within the contested homeland continue to draw support from Sikh immigrants and their Canadian-born descendants. Perplexingly, while a sizable proportion of second and third-generation Sikh youth advocate for the creation of the theocratic state of Khalistan, many selectively disregard the righteous way of life envisioned by the founders of the Khalsa Panth. This paper presents a conceptual sociological analysis of the diasporic politics of identity and homeland. Although Marx, and other modern social theorists, had presumed that nationalism would eventually disappear, globalization has attributed new importance to the project of nation-building, and imagined political communities. Using the Sikh nationalist liberation movement as the point of departure, this paper demonstrates that ethno-racial markers of identity, and primordial religious mythologies, can be politically employed to distract members of oppressed groups from realizing the material conditions which perpetuate inequality in post-colonial capitalist states. Considering that ethnies are never universally homogenous groups, and that economic incentives exist for seizing state power, nationalist movements can only be understood by identifying the concrete class interests of their principal exponents. While the Punjab problem represents the empirical focus of this paper, the rich sociological insights on inter-communal conflict, identity, and belonging are generalizable beyond this immediate context.


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