(Re) Presenting Sikh American History: The Rise of Stockton Gurdwara as the Capital of Sikhi in the United States

Tejpaul Bainiwal
PhD Candidate, Religious Studies
University of California, Riverside

Sikhs have been a part of the social fabric of the United States for more than a century. Most, if not all, studies of Sikhs in this country follow a similar trajectory, which includes initial immigration at the turn of the twentieth century, discrimination and hardships faced by Sikh immigrants, the Ghadar movement, Punjabi-Mexican families, and prominent Sikh Americans such as Bhagat Singh Thind and Dalip Singh Saund. Scholars have focused on a socio-political descriptive analysis of the immigration and subsequent settlement of Sikhs throughout the early 20th century. Despite the fact that Sikhs are a religious group, a thorough analysis remains to be done on the role of religion. This projects seeks to redefine these historical incidents in Sikh American history through theories of racialization while emphasizing the role of religion and placing them into a larger context of identity; power, resistance, and liberation.

Routed Communities: Race, Religion, and Labor in the Punjabi American Trucking Industry

Loveleen Brar
PhD Candidate, American Culture
University of Michigan

This project examines the rising number of Punjabi Sikh truck drivers, and the Punjabi owned truck stops, called dhabas, that have popped up across the major US interstates. While narratives about Punjabi Sikhs in the trucking industry have focused on their entrepreneurial successes, they have ignored the xenophobic and nativist sentiments Punjabi Sikhs face within the industry. This project explores how Punjabi Sikhs have turned to each other to find safety on the road. My dissertation asks, what network of care are created and recreated in the diaspora? In what ways does the dhaba become a site for diasporic culture, faith, and survival? Using ethnographic methods, this project will look at two truck stops that have constructed makeshift Sikh temples on-site. The objectives of this project are to understand how the dhaba functions as a site of spiritual safety, and how Sikh truck drivers make up a mobile congregation.

Keywords: Diaspora, Labor, Sikh, Xenophobia

Skip to content