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date: 25 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the role of colonial encounter in shaping modern Sikh identity. It notes how during the eighteenth century a stereotype characterizing Sikhism as a reformist tradition distinct from Indian religious culture emerged in colonial discourse. The article charts the way in which the putative distinctiveness of Sikhism became a key front in the struggle between two different visions of Sikh identity in the late nineteenth century, one which promoted a catholic view of Sikh culture () and the other a narrowly defined tradition (). The article outlines how this restrictive Sikh idiom became prevalent, and the role of colonialism in mediating its ascendancy; it discusses whether colonialism simply patronized religious chauvinism or supervised its production. Finally, the article sketches the shift from communalized religion to ethno-nationalism in the early twentieth century.

Keywords: Akalis, Chief Khalsa Diwan, Colonialism, martial race, Sanatan dharam, Sikhism, Singh Sabha, Tat Khalsa

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