So people know I'm a Sikh: Narratives of Sikh masculinities in contemporary Britain

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This article examines British-born Sikh men's identification to Sikhism. In particular, it focuses on the appropriation and use of Sikh symbols amongst men who define themselves as Sikh. This article suggests that whilst there are multiple ways of being a Sikh man in contemporary post-colonial Britain, and marking belonging to the Sikh faith, there is also a collectively understood idea of what an ideal Sikh man should be. Drawing upon Connell and Messerschmidt's discussion of locally specific hegemonic masculinities (2005. "Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept." Gender and Society 19 (6): 829-859), it is suggested that an ideal Sikh masculine identity is partly informed by a Khalsa discourse, which informs a particular performance of Sikh male identity, whilst also encouraging the surveillance of young men's activities both by themselves and by others. These Sikh masculinities are complex and multiple, rotating to reaffirm, challenge and redefine contextualised notions of hegemonic masculinity within the Sikh diaspora in post-colonial Britain. Such localised Sikh masculinities may both assert male privilege and reap patriarchal dividends (Connell, W. 1995. Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press), resulting in particular British Sikh hegemonic masculinities which seek to shape the performance of masculinity, yet in another context these very same performances of masculinity may also signify a more marginalised masculinity vis-à-vis other dominant hegemonic forms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-353
Number of pages20
JournalCulture and Religion
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2014


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