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Losing my religion: Sikhs in the UK

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JournalSikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory
DateE-pub ahead of print - 10 May 2013
DatePublished (current) - 2013
Issue number1
Volume9
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)39-50
Early online date10/05/13
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In the wake of the war on terror the British Sikh diaspora has made a conscious effort to distinguish and set themselves apart from the Muslim community. Although historically this distinction is not novel, within the UK such an effort to illustrate this difference has been enforced to a much greater extent and has become more prominent within a context in which Sikhs have often been mistaken for being Muslim. In an attempt to distance themselves from being represented as or amongst Muslims, Sikhs have adopted many of the racial pathologies which are widely embedded within Western culture and its antipathy towards Muslims and Islam. Recent years have thus seen the development of a Sikh variant of Islamophobia which shares some of the general themes associated with Islamophobic discourse but it also has unique inflections reflecting the particularities of Sikh history and contemporary circumstances. This article will examine the consequences of Sikh attempts to distinguish themselves from Muslims especially when this distinction comes in the form of uncritical assimilation. I will examine the cost of such assimilation upon Sikhs and Sikhness arguing for the development of alternative or counter-hegemonic narratives principally centred around decolonisation rather than assimilation.

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