A Diasporic Politics of Belonging: Punjabis in Postwar Britain

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2013

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation takes the nearly one million people of Punjabi "origin" who live in Britain today as the subject of its study and asks; how did this diverse group of "Punjabi" migrants historically constitute a sense of belonging, cultural identity, and community in the second half of the twentieth century? Further, how did this politics and experience of what it means to be "in the middle of difference" change over time? The project unravels the cultural forms, practices of sociality, and processes of memory through which these Punjabi migrants have negotiated and strategized what it means to belong to each other in postwar Britain. Focusing on a series of important geopolitical junctures in late twentieth and early twenty first century history, from the politics of decolonization and the end of empire in the subcontinent to the New Labour politics of immigration and "Britishness" in the post-9/11 era, what is revealed is the constant reconfigurations of Punjabi regional identity in response to transnational, national, and local historical forces, as well as the agency of migrants from Punjab to differently define themselves. The dissertation intervenes in scholarship on decolonization, diaspora, race, immigration, and post-imperial national identities.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Jean Allman

Committee Members

Tony Ballantyne, J. Dillon Brown, Shefali Chandra, Timothy Parsons, Lori Watt


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K7DJ5CKJ

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