Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, University of Michigan

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Area and Cultural Studies, University of Michigan
Sikhism Will Be Televised: Recognition and Religion-Making at British Sikh Television Networks

Since mass immigration in the 1960's, multicultural politics have been the chief mechanism by which British society has met the challenges and possibilities of cultural difference. Multicultural societies have been theorized to accommodate cultural difference by esteeming minority groups and their identities, inviting a 'politics of recognition' by which minorities contest how they are perceived by others. Yet in practice, attempts to garner recognition are often linguistic affairs, in which groups are made sense of in particular languages or frameworks. This presents several questions about address, publicity, and language. How do minorities draw on prevailing frameworks in order make themselves intelligible to others? What possibilities do groups have in choosing the terms in which they esteemed? Does the language in which minority groups represent themselves actually generate new identity formations? This project will investigate cultural production at influential community-owned television networks in order to examine the practices by which British Sikhs formulate public representations of Sikhism. Specifically, this study will examine how television employees discuss, debate, and build consensus as they address diasporic and national audiences simultaneously. These community-sponsored, non-profit television networks are sites in which Sikh cultural producers come together and produce diverse programming that creatively makes sense of the world while engaging with Sikh tradition. I will conduct long-term, situated ethnographic research at two particularly influential Sikh television networks, both located in Birmingham (UK), in order to examine how British Sikh cultural producers make decisions about how Sikhism should be publicly presented. Which representations of Sikhism should be disseminated, and how they will address their audiences? This project will allow me to uncover the living debates, interests, and aspirations that shape British Sikh cultural production.