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Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants (Contemporary Ethnography) 44844th Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0812215922
ISBN-10: 0812215923
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Mahmood (Frisian and Free: Study of an Ethnic Minority of the Netherlands, Waveland, 1989) undertook this investigation as a study of the anthropology of violence and based her interviews solely on Sikhs living in North America, including some in prison. The narratives relate primarily to the relationship of the individual to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, or the invasion of the holiest Sikh temple by the Indian government in 1984. The last portion of the book raises questions about membership in communities and violent attempts to force conformity. Mahmood discusses Edward Said, Salmon Rushdie, and Harjot Oberoi (a Sikh whose academic writings have stirred much controversy). She is careful to state that the militants within the Sikh community are a minority and raises ethical issues for an anthropologist undertaking such research. Highly recommended.?Donald Clay Johnson, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A stunning presentation of narrative ethnography, achieving the remarkable feat of forcing the reader to enter into the world—and the world view—of those whom most of us would regard as terrorists. The issues this book raises cannot be ignored."—Mark Juergensmeyer, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Mahmood brilliantly interweaves Sikh militants' narratives—their aspirations, fears, beliefs, and actions—with an understanding of India's Khalistan movement in particular and of contemporary political conflict in general. . . . Fighting for Faith and Nation provides the theoretical and methodological tools for understanding the politics of violence and militancy and the troubled concepts of nation and freedom. More important, it provides a sensitive and responsible approach to difficult and contentious issues—to matters, literally, of life and death."—Carolyn Nordstrom, University of California, Berkeley

"Highly recommended."—Library Journal


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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Ethnography
  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press; 44844th edition (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812215923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812215922
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
C. K. Mahmood has, in her book, given us a glimpse of the real world of expatriate khalistani militants, heretofore distorted by Indian Govt./press propaganda. Her book is based on extensive interviews she undertook with different people who were involved in the movement at one time or another. The style of presenting the material reminds us of Shakespearean plays where, after the characters play out their parts there are asides to give the audiences the context. Not only has she brought out the travails of the militants but also her own uneasy position as a practicing anthropologist who, on the one hand, has to keep her distance to be objective, and on the other, has to show empathy to really understand the motivations of the militants. While her subjects are going through dilemmas of their own she has her own sets to confront with.

She has presented the interviews verbatim as they were recorded and has given her own analysis after the interview. This gives her work some objectivity as people can then agree or disagree with her interpretation/analysis. She also develops the background of the movement with a brief introduction to the Sikh religion. She goes on to give background material about the Damdami Taksal, the genesis of Bhindrawale. It is interesting to note the different motivations of the militants. One was a very religious person, in common parlance he could be referred to as a religious fanatic. Another was a champion of Punjabiyat. By far all were deeply religious and derived their strength from their common history and heritage. One cannot feel but a little disturbed while reading some of the interviews as we can see the workings of communalism and the ghosts of the 1947 blood bath rear their head. The state comes out looking as very repressive and inefficient.
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Format: Paperback
When Cynthia Keppley Mahmood narrated some of her experiences with the Sikh Militant during the fieldwork to one of her students, he remarked, "These people are magnificent." After reading the book, many readers may feel the same way while others may disagree depending on which side of the fence they stand - victim of terrorism or victim of injustice that leads to terrorism.
Although Mahmood makes it very clear in no uncertain terms about her disagreement in regards to the route the Sikh militants have taken up to seek justice, she still manages to bring together a very unbiased and objective account. This book sheds light on the history and politics behind what led to the disaster of 1984 in India. And then the aftermath is recounted by the eye witnesses and victims now settled in the US.
Inder Malhotra, one of the most distinguished journalists of that time, compared Sant J.S. Bhindrawale to Khoemini and Frankenstien but this first hand accounts of people who grew up with, lived with, and fought with Bhindrewale show a different picture. After reading this book, it is up to the reader to decide which account to believe.
Finally, a version that tells the story on behalf of the militants, their justifications, and their ideology. The first hand accounts of people who were directly involved and affected during the Blue Star operation are extremely moving and shows the image in different light than what one has seen before. The bravery of Sikh men, women and even children is amazing. The illustrations, some provided by the international documentation of human rights violation in India, are tremendously moving.
This is a read that will take a while due to its poignant nature, but worth the time to understand the depth and dimensions of this problem
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Format: Paperback
Growing up as a Sikh in America I was far removed from the atrocities perpetrated on the Sikh community in India. I distinctly remember as a child watching my parents and family desperately calling India to relatives to ensure their safety. Then in 1994 on my first visit (after 13 years), I discussed the topic of the November 1984 riots with some of my relatives. I found their accounts to just as harrowing. What I found more disturbing was the censorship of the issue there. No books were written or at least could be obtained in India. To my surprise I came across this book one day on Amazon and decided to get it. I found the book to be intelligent, meticulously researched, and above all engrossing. Although I am far from an extremist I can understand the extreme position of the these "freedom fighters" Cynthia Manmood presents interviews dispersed with her opinions many of which her subjects, I'm sure would disagree with. Recommended book for anyone interested in current Indian history as well as Sikh history.
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Format: Paperback
By far one of the best books I have ever read. This book is not for just Khalistanis, but for everyone who wants to know the truth. It is written by a non sikh and a non indian for that matter giving it a bi partisian view of the punjab situation past and present. It is a well written and easy to read book.
At times this book was so intense that I had to put it down so I would not over flow with emotion. This is not for the weak of heart, there are eye witness stories of militants and survivors of tragdey.
I have read other books on the punjab crisis but non come close to the one on one interviews that Cynthia has given. These stories will grip your heart and turn it around. Stories of brave Sikhs IN OUR TIME! Many times people think that the days of Baba Deep Singh are gone, but after reading this book you will know there are countless of those kinds of Sikhs, who are upholding what Sikhi really is, while we live in luxury and just proclaim our selves as sikhs with high heads. There heads pay for our heads tanding tall today.
We have been humiliated by the Government of India, and the only reason that we can even walk with our respect today is because of what the freedom fighters in punjab did for us.
Many times you will see non-sikhs wearing a kara, I once asked one of my south indian friends, why do you wear a kara, and his response was, this is the sign of bravery. What bravery? today we wear a kara and proclaim to be brave, and this comes from the lives others have given.
So many people dont know the truth, and even some of our own sikhs choose not to know the truth because they are fearful that it might make them uncomfortable in there 'comfortable' life styles. How can we live easily while the rest of our people suffer?
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