In order to examine gender and identity within Sikh literature and culture and to understand the construction of gender and the practice of Sikhi
within the contemporary Sikh diaspora in the US, I analyze a selection from creative non-fiction pieces, variously termed essays, personal narrative, or life writing, in Meeta Kaur’s edited collection, Her Name is Kaur: Sikh American Women Write About Love, Courage, and Faith
. Gender, understood as a social construct (Butler, among others), is almost always inconsistent and is related to religion, which, too, is a construct and is also almost always inconsistent in many ways. Therefore, my reading critically engages with the following questions regarding life writing through a postcolonial feminist and intersectional lens: What are lived religions and how are the practices, narratives, activities and performances of ‘being’ Sikh imagined differently in the diaspora as represent in my chosen essays? What are some of the tenets of Sikhism, viewed predominantly as patriarchal within dominant cultural spaces, and how do women resist or appropriate some of them to reconstruct their own ideas of being a Sikh? In Kaur’s collection of essays, there are elements of traditional autobiography, such as the construction of the individual self, along with the formation of communal identity, in the postcolonial life writing. I will critique four narrative in Kaur’s anthology as testimonies to bear witness and to uncover Sikh women’s hybrid cultural and religious practices as reimagined and practiced by the female Sikh writers.
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