Thursday, August 03, 2006

Where do we go from here?

In her article Sikh Studies: Where do we go from here? *, Doris Jakobsh states the problems that a western student, or the diaspora Sikhs would face in the area of Sikh studies. She locates the problems in the "religio-cultural meta-narrative that is the Sikh tradition." This raises a few questions as how and when the Sikh tradition(s) worked as a meta-narrative? What do we mean by Sikh traditions? Would we differentiate between pre-Singh Sabha, Singh Sabha, and post-Singh Sabha period? Has this meta-narrative been effective throughout the entire Sikh history or it emerges with the Singh Sabha movement? If we locate it in the Singh Sabha discourse, why would not trace it back into the imperialist discourse that is still functional in the academia?

As Doris Jakobsh obviously ignores all these questions and jumps to draw conclusion on the basis of this myth of meta-narrative, we are pushed to see it in terms of what levinas describes as "the dignity of being the ultimate and royal discourse." The issues of Self and subjectivity need to be discussed in this context before we try to go anywhere. It must be clear that it is not just the "subjects" as the Sikhs that need to be "defined", we need to explore the complexities that lie in the changing faces of blonde brute and priestly nobility, constantly contradicting and adapting each other.

Prabhsharandeep Singh

*Readers are suggested to see the journal for more detailed version of the article:
“Constructing Sikh Identities: Authorities, Virtual and Imagined,” International Journal of Punjab Studies No. 1 and 2, Vol. 10 (January 2004) pp. 127-142.

Review on Doris Jakobsh's book can be found here.

1 comment:

Prabhsharanbir Singh said...

the trouble with pseudo- postmodernists is this that in the first place they dont understand what postmodernism is or rather they feel unable to react to the fact that postmodernism is not one . it is not a concrete dogma ready to be adopted lying out there. it is also not a method to be adopted and applied. this is the case with ms jacobsh. she is using postmodernism as weapon to devastate sikhism completely. instead of advancing diversity , she is killing it.
postmodernism is an attitude. it tries to remain open toward the other. but this lady's stance is not such, its modernist in denying sikhism its uniqueness and relegating it to meatphysical closure. she is practicing a hermeneutics of aversion in which the subject matter at hand is treated as a bloody damn thing from the very start. this shows her own mental state.
on the contrary, a postmodernist will adopt a hermeneutics of generosity as suggested by Ricoeur, in which first the text is made to speak for itself then it approached for a methodological study. if you shut up the text on the very start and begin to give a commentary then it is nothing more than a polemic.