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Teaching Religion and Violence$
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Brian K. Pennington

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372427.001.0001

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The Specter of Violence in Sikh Pasts

The Specter of Violence in Sikh Pasts

(p.149) Chapter 6 The Specter of Violence in Sikh Pasts
Teaching Religion and Violence

Anne Murphy

Oxford University Press

To understand alternative and sometimes competing definitions of violence—for instance, as secular or religious—the representation of violence must take center stage in analysis. Foregrounding representation allows investigation of how connections between religion and violence are made and how our understanding of the terms involved are constructed. This essay discusses issues that shape these representations of the Sikh past and presents an overview of more recent selected instances and related representations of violence associated with Sikh tradition—both in South Asia and in the Sikh Diaspora—including the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1995, the movement for an independent Khalistan, and the Delhi Riots of 1984. In doing so I will call attention to the multiplicity of representations and historical realities of violence with reference to the Sikh tradition and suggest strategies for analyzing representations of the tradition such that violence is visible as multidimensional and complex, and fundamentally related to the forms of violence of the secular. This is of great importance, for the tradition founded by the Sikh Gurus is all too often portrayed with an emphasis on violence, without full recognition of the historical contexts for violence.

Keywords:   Air India Flight 182, Delhi Riots 1984, gurus, Khalistan, Sikhism, Sikh Diaspora

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