Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants

Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants

Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants

Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants

Synopsis

"The ethnic and religious violence that characterizes the late twentieth century calls for new ways of thinking and writing about politics. Listening to the voices of people who experience political violence - either as victims or as perpetrators - gives new insights into both the sources of violent conflict and the potential for its resolution."--BOOK JACKET. "Going beyond such easy labels as "fundamentalism" and "terrorism, " Mahmood shows how complex and multifaceted the human experience of political violence actually is. Drawing on her extensive interviews and conversations with Sikh militants, she presents their accounts of the human rights abuses they suffer in India as well as their explanations of the philosophical tradition of martyrdom and meaningful death in the Sikh faith. While demonstrating how divergent the worldviews of participants in a conflict can be, Fighting for Faith and Nation gives reason to hope that our essential common humanity may provide grounds for a pragmatic resolution of conflicts like the one in Punjab, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the past fifteen years."--BOOK JACKET.

Excerpt

This book is the result of a difficult project that could not have been undertaken without the guidance, generosity, tolerance, and trust of a great many people. First to be mentioned must be the Khalistani Sikh community, whose members put themselves at risk by welcoming an inquisitive stranger. The hospitality of countless Sikh households and gurudwaras made the interviews on which this research is based possible, and many individuals spent hours and days away from their homes and their work to answer my endless questions. In particular, I appreciate the grace with which militant Sikhs have greeted my disagreements with them and encouraged me to put these divergent opinions in speeches and writings. This generosity of spirit and sense of respect for difference will be, I hope, the enduring cornerstone of the Sikh community.

With regard to the Sikhs, I want to make a few things perfectly clear at the outset, though they will be made clear throughout the book as well. First, the Khalistani militants form a very small subset of the Sikh community as a whole. This book is not about "the Sikhs." It is about the militants. Any attempt to treat what is written here as a generalization about Sikhs in general would be highly misguided, and I would condemn it wholeheartedly. The book is not even about all of those Sikhs who support the idea of an independent homeland; it focuses specifically on those who have taken up arms in order to achieve it and on the communities that support them.

Three years of intermittent fieldwork with expatriate Sikhs in ten North American cities forms the basis for this book, which is, both an oral history of the militant movement and a dialogical ethnography of a cultural community. Some of the people with whom I worked are permanent residents or citizens of the United States or Canada, others are here as recent refugees, and . . .

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