The Sikhs in Canada: Migration, Race, Class, and Gender

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Item Code: IDF068
Author: Gurcharn S. Basran & B. Singh Bolaria
Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2003
ISBN: 0195648862
Pages: 326
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.9" X 5.7"
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Book Description

From the Jacket :

The passage of Sikhs from India to Canada and their location in the Canadian mosaic constitutes an interesting subject for sociological analysis. This book deals with the migratory patterns and characteristics of Sikh immigrants to Canada, the trials and tribulations faced by them, and their professional and social status in a foreign land.

This volume discusses the self-perception of the Sikhs as an oppressed minority community in India. It analyses their desire to create a space for themselves - politically, economically, and geographically - to safeguard their religious, cultural, and linguistic rights. The authors focus on the historical and contemporary plight of the Sikhs in Punjab, from where most of the Sikhs immigrated, and links it with the formation and politics of the Sikh community in Canada.

The authors go on to discuss the Canadian immigration policy in general and the policies specific to immigration from India. The current socio-economic status of the Sikh immigrants and the participation of Sikh immigrant workers in the Canadian labour force is another vital issue of concern. Racism, racial discrimination, and racist labour policies at the workplace resulted in exploitation of early Sikh workers. The authors recount instances of political activism and anti-colonial and anti-racist activities of 'pioneer' immigrants.

The nature and formation of social and cultural institutions of immigrants are influenced to a great extent by the Canadian immigration policy which had a deep impact on the formation and development of Sikh families and conjugal life in Canada. The book covers race, class and gender issues as they related to the status of the Sikhs in Canada.

This book will be of interest to students and scholars of sociology, anthropology, politics, and history.

About the Author :

Gurcharn S. Basran and B. Singh Bolaria are Professors, Department of Sociology, University of Sanskatchewan, Canada.

Excerpts From Reviews:

"On May 13, 1914, 376 British subjects (12 Hindus, 24 Muslims, and 340 Sikhs) of Indian origin arrived in Vancouver harbour abroad the Komagata Maru, seeking to enter Canada, 352 of the passengers were denied entry and forced to depart on July 23, 1914. This plaque commemorates the 75th anniversary of the unfortunate incident of racial discrimination and reminds Canadians of our commitment of an open society in which mutual respect and understanding are honoured, differences are respected, and traditions are cherished." - Plaque at the Gateway to the Pacific, Downtown Vancouver

"Komagata Maru Incident 75th Anniversary: Dedicated to the memory of the 376 passengers (340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims, 12 Hindus) who arrived at Burrard Inlet, Vancouver on May 23, 1914, from Indian sub-continent on the ship Komagata Maru (Guru Nanak Jahaz). Due to the racist immigration policy of the Dominion of Canada, they were forced to leave on July 23, 1914. Khalsa Diwan Society, Vancouvr, pays respect to those passengers by commemorating the reprehensible incident." - Plaque in the Vancouver Gurdwara dedicated July 23, 1989




1. Introduction:  
  Increasing Diversity in the Canadian Mosaic 1
  Deracialization and Recent Immigrants 1
  Immigrant Characteristics: Give Us Your Educated 5
  International Migrations 8
  Role of the State 11
  Summary 11
2. Sikhs and Sikhism: The Khalsa Panth 14
  Introduction 14
  Sikh Gurus and Sikh Religion 15
  The Development of Sikhism and Sikh Identity 22
  Sikh Ethical Values: Personal and Social Conduct 23
  Contradictions of Everyday Living 25
  Summary 27
3. State, Religion, Language and Politics 30
  Introduction 30
  The Sikh State Prior to British Colonialism: The Sikh Raj 31
  Gurdwara Reform Movement 34
  Sikhs and the Anti-Colonial Struggle 36
  Politics of Language 38
  The Anandpur Sahib Resolution 40
  Economic Development and its Contradictions 54
  The Politics of the 'Punjab Problem' 56
  State Crimes and Criminalization of Political Dissent 65
  Summary and Conclusion 69
4. Migration, Labour and Racism 77
  Introduction 77
  International Migrations 78
  Capital and Foreign Labour 80
  State and Labour Procurement 83
  Institutional Racism and Exploitation 84
  Summary 89
5. From Indian to Canada:
Immigration Policy and Migration Patterns
  Introduction 95
  Indian Immigration: 1990-1908 95
  Indian Immigration: 1909 to the Second World War 99
  Indian Immigration: Post-War Period, 1966 103
  Indian Immigration: Since 1967 104
  Political Consciousness and Resistance 107
  Summary 110
6. Colonialism and Indian Labour: Work and Life in the Colonies 116
  Introduction 116
  Colonialism and Indian Labour 117
  Sikh Workers: Reproduction of Low-Cost Labour 121
  Single Male Labour 122
  Colonial Status, Racism, and Legal-Political Rights 124
  Racial Labour Policy 126
  Racially Segregated Labour and Living Conditions 126
  Racial Preference in Employment and Blocked Alternative Opportunities 128
  Differential Wages: Racism and Price of Labour 129
  Racialized Work and Segregated Work Areas 131
  Racialized Occupational and Social Hierarchy 133
  Undesirable Immigrants, Preferred Workers 135
  Everyday Lived Experiences of Sikhs 138
  Summary 143
7. Post-War Immigrants: Opportunities and Constraints  150
  Introduction 150
  Post-War Immigrants 151
  Immigrants Increasingly from Non-Traditional sources 152
  Recent Immigrants Better Educated 153
  Labour Force Profile of Immigrants 154
  Visible Minorities: Non White in Colour of Non-Caucasian in Race 156
  Socio-Economic and Labour Force Profile of Sikhs 159
  Media and the Minorities: Problemetizing the Sikh Community 167
  Community Conflict and Immigration Controls 175
  Social Image of Sikhs and Other Racial Minorities 178
  Victimization and Criminalization of 'Look-Alike' Minorities 179
  Race and Colour Matter 182
  Summary 185
8. State Policies, Family Formation and Inequality 192
  Introduction 192
  State Policies and Early Family Formation 193
  Contemporary Families: Structural Diversity, Social Relations and Cultural Practices 196
  Gender Equality and Decision-Making 197
  Families, Children, Courtship, and Marriages 198
  Cultural Transmission: Language and Religion 201
  Economic Statue of Visible Minority Families 201
  Visible Minority Women: Race, Class, Gender 203
  Summary 207
9. The Sikhs: From Indian to Canada 213
  Introduction 213
  Religion, Identity, and Politics 214
  Migrations and Labour Reproduction 216
  Colonial Status, Racism, and Sikh Workers 218
  Post-War Canada: Social Mobility and Inequality 219
  Race, Gender, and Family 220
  Conclusions 221


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