SIKHISM'S EMANCIPATORY DISCOURSES: Some critical perspectives

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    Abstract

    Against the backdrop of globalisation, and the attendant instability in the global economic order, coupled with an apparent upsurge in local, regional and international conflicts based on various kinds of group identification (race, ethnicity, religion etc), the promises of western progress, of modernity and civilisation are becoming increasing incredulous. The temporal and spatial distortions caused by globalisation, underpinned by economic, cultural and epistemological uncertainty, throw up a number of extremely difficult challenges for critical social theory. In response to this challenge, postmodern and postcolonial scholars have sought to problematise and prise apart the surface narrative of western modernity. These new spaces of intellectual inquiry offer scholars of Sikhism new and exiting opportunities to revisit our own understandings of Sikh theology and tradition. More specifically, it enables one to re-imagine and re-inscribe the emancipatory discourses that have historically been associated with Sikhism within the context of late or post-modernity. Against this backdrop the central aim of this paper is therefore to re-imagine and re-inscribe the emancipatory discourses that have been associated with Sikhism; discourses that have hitherto been very much rooted within a European enlightenment worldview. In order to provide both theoretical and historical coherence to the latter discussion, the first half of the paper will set out a detailed overview of development of ideas relating to ‘human emancipation’ within the context of modernity and post-modernity. From this broad philosophical background, given their centrality to contemporary debates about human emancipation, the second part will examine three key discursive categories, namely those of ‘race’, class/cast and gender. This will be done through a reflexive approach juxtaposing a review of contemporary sociological understandings of ‘race’, class/cast and gender and a critical reading of Sikh scriptures.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-151
    JournalSikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory
    Volume2
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007

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