Accepted paper:

Gurdwaras and British Sikh identity: the role of anthropology (-ists) in social cohesion and diversity in a case study of London's Sikh youth


Gurbachan Jandu

Paper short abstract:

Can socio-cultural anthropology assist the Sikh temples understand their role, if any, in the formation of British Sikh identity and the complete participation of Sikh society in London's community? Will a participant ethnologist politicise the outcome? Can this be avoided, and should it be?

Paper long abstract:

In London today, Sikh youth are challenged by the concept of "super-diversity" in the formation of British Sikh identity and their full participation in civic activities. This paper reports on three months of field research based on interviews with 22 "emerging adults" aged 18-30. To this is added the interviews of 12 "transmitters" that consisted of older members of the Sikh community including the gurdwara's management. Participant observation was also used to study the activities of both groups. This ethnographical study of the Sikh community by a participant observer devoped an innate reflexivity and became "results-driven". The perceived need to assist the Sikh youth in their identity negotiation reduced the "undetermined" nature of the anthropologist's role. This may indicate that a Sikh ethnography based on field research by a community member and trustee will need to seek extraneous stringency to maintain a dogma-free approach. However a pertinent question is, should it? There is a rich interaction between studying the institute, maintaining academic discipline and the altruistic need to ensure the migrant community is attaining its potential. This paper explores this interaction and reports on the case study's successes and pitfalls in a bid to add to the anthropological study of Sikhs in Britain as post WWII migrants and as "generation 3.0".

pdf download Download the full paper
panel P25
Can anthropology work for migrants? Anthropology (-ists) at work in charities and NGOs