Skip to Main Content
Rural Nostalgias and Transnational Dreams

Rural Nostalgias and Transnational Dreams: Identity and Modernity Among Jat Sikhs

  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Rural Nostalgias and Transnational Dreams
    Book Description:

    Rural Nostalgias and Transnational Dreamsexamines the formation and meaning of Jat Sikh identity in the contemporary Indian city.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9493-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Note on Identity Terms
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Prologue
    (pp. 3-6)

    It is as important to understand the anthropologist’s position in writing as that which they outline therein for the ethnographic community in which they research. It is essential at the beginning of an ethnographic work to reflect on the motivations which inspired it, as well as the methods by which it was accomplished. I must state here explicitly that myself and ‘my other’ are intricately and intimately connected in this project. Although I had always planned a career in anthropology, it was not until shortly after my marriage to a Jat Sikh that I selected as my doctoral subject a...

  6. 1 Introduction: Jat Sikh Locations and the Bahu Ethnographer
    (pp. 7-46)

    This book is a study of identity-making in a community of Jat Sikhs. It describes some of the possibilities of community and belonging common among Jats amid the various influences of urbanization and transnationalism. While Jats have traditionally held a primordially rural identity as the farmers and landlords of the Punjab region of northwest India, a number of economic and political crises experienced over the past century continue to force Jats from their lands to take up urban lives in India, as well as to emigrate. In discussing processes and discourses of Jat Sikh identity-making, I describe a number of...

  7. 2 Farming, Family, and Faith: Elements of Jat Sikh Identity
    (pp. 47-86)

    The ethnographic literature on India is huge, but scarcely within it is the ethnographic record on Punjab cited. The canonical Indian ethnographies focus on villages, although paradoxically, many have a civilizational emphasis (e.g. Cohn 1971, Dumont 1966 [1970], Mandelbaum 1970, Marriott 1960, Singer 1972, Singer and Cohn 1970, Srinivas 1966, 1976). Although diverse in regional scope, these ethnographies describe a number of essential similarities of Indian – primarily Hindu – culture: an overwhelmingly rural economy, caste, sub-caste and extra-caste membership as the basis for social organization, the local council or panchayat as the basis for political leadership, the extended and joint family...

  8. 3 Good Families: Marriage, Gender, and Middle-Class Jat Community
    (pp. 87-111)

    Marriage is the most prestigious of Indian family ceremonies, and is the major occasion on which kin, caste-fellows, and other social contacts gather. Morever, marriage and having children are paramount and lifelong concerns. In this chapter, I examine marriage as one of the primary symbolic means through which socially valued aspects of identify are expressed and maintained. In particular, I describe the characteristics locally attributed to the ‘good’² middle-class Jat family. The virtues attached to arranging and formalizing marriage comprise much of the current understanding ofizzatin the Jat community, and the local meaning of the good family becomes...

  9. 4 Good Fortunes: Education, Class, and National Contingencies
    (pp. 112-135)

    Practices of education, and relatedly, social class are of great significance to urban Jats as they make possible not only everyday contingencies but also the imaginative modernities expressed in rural nostalgias and transnational dreams. Balraaj Singh’s words express relief in escaping a disadvantaged past, convey a sense of proud arrival into the modern present, and look to a future of promise. The process of becoming educated, although it continues to occur at a differential rate and in a gendered manner among Jats, is key to notions of status now current in the community, both urban and rural. Class and education...

  10. 5 Unities and Schisms in Jat Sikh Identity
    (pp. 136-172)

    Jats everywhere seem to agree on the importance of education and middle-class ideals. Even rural Jats, who have been described as the grassroots of Khalistani nationalism (Tatla 1999), seem today more interested in pursuits of materialism and progress than in nationalist political struggle. But Jat solidarity can be undermined by these ideals in practice, and other issues of exclusivity and difference also arise. For instance, those Jats drawn into forms of social solidarity with other middle-class Indians do not also express unqualified affiliations with India as nation. Indeed, their most profound relationship with the nation may be seen in the...

  11. 6 The Rural Imaginary
    (pp. 173-206)

    I was repeatedly told by the educated and urbane informants amongst whom I did fieldwork that if I wanted to understand ‘the real India,’ and, by extension, ‘real’ Jats, I should take myself out to the villages, as only here would I come to appreciate their culture and ways. I came to understand these suggestions as commentaries on the complex interrelationship between notions of rural and urban, local and global, tradition and modernity, and the related ambiguities of sentiment and loyalty that my local advisors themselves felt in creating their personal and collective identities. These assertions reflect a discontinuity of...

  12. 7 A Wedding Phulkari and Other Gifts
    (pp. 207-215)

    Towards the end of my stay in India, my mother-in-law presented me with an heirloomphulkari,a gift that has great symbolic meaning.Phulkarisare important signifiers of relationships, and their presentation at marriage marks intimate kinship bonds between women. This particular gift was an ethnographic one as well, accompanied by an emotive narration in which thephulkarirepresented a powerful expression of pride in Jat traditions even as it spoke a longing for stable formations of family and home. This short chapter examines, autoethnographically, this poetics of Jat identity-seeking amid transnational cultural transformations.

    The literal meaning of the term...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 216-220)

    I returned to Ganganagar, with my husband, during the winter of 2006–7. While some of the Jats with whom I shared conversations, celebrations, commiserations, and daily life in 1998 and 1999 still went about their urban occupations and middle-class preoccupations, a good number had gone abroad. From their new vantage points, I am sure they imagine their village homes, lands, and identities with renewed longing and fervour. For both urban and transnational Jats, life in the village is lost, and yet it is eminently present. Indeed, I began to meet with further rural knowledges and nostalgias when I told...

  14. Glossary
    (pp. 221-228)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 229-266)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-286)
  17. Index
    (pp. 287-302)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 303-304)