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A translation needed from English into . . . . err English


amandeepm
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Hello

I try to keep up with the world of Sikh studies. This is done by reading academic papers (or more likely just the abstracts) and keeping up with the latest publications. More often than not there are some real gems in this approach and I am often left wondering just how we can get some of the excellent work that is doen by students and professional academics into a more publis level. However I am sometimes left scratching my head.

I came across this on the Internet and for me this exemplifies everything that is wrong with sikh academia. Now, most people woudl point to "anti-sikh" propoganda being the biggest evil in academia, or of some kind of global conspiracy against teh sikhs in schoalrly cirles. This is just sour grapes and utter Baloney. However, this abstract that I reproduce below is the most cutting inditment of western academics and their approach to the rich, beautiful, wonderous world of sikh studies. I will send a free signed copy of "Sicques, Tigers or Thieves" to anyone who can come up with the most 'inventive, amusing, consice or just plain understandable' translation of what on earth this bloke is on about :

Between Bodies: The Imminence of Khalsa Identity

Navdeep Singh Mandair (S.O.A.S. University of London)

In this paper I will attempt to justify the perversity of a proposition which posits the focus of Sikh studies as an object other than Sikhism. The lacuna within Sikh studies signalled by this assertion will be highlighted by problematizing the uncritical acceptance of a Sikh identity, here interrogated from the perspective of the male Khalsa subject, which has been surreptitiously reorganized in an encounter with the pernicious sympathy of modernity’s gaze. What this inscrutable act of revision signals then is that Sikh identity is an object which unfolds upon the ontological horizon of the virtual. A genealogy of this event will track its inception to the deployment of masculinity , by the British in colonial India, as an icon to inscribe an underlying affinity between Sikh and Christian religious beliefs and follow the rehearsal of this colonization of difference as reflected in the recent work of Sikh studies specialists which aims to situate Sikhism firmly within the ambit of a world religions project.

Drawing on the work of Jacques Lacan I will attempt to read the mimetic event informing colonial encounter through the notion of the mirror stage. An initial reading will suggest that the coming-into-being (devenir) of Sikh identity is predicated on the eliding of a carnality which disfigures it vis-à-vis the colonial imago. A subsequent rethinking of this event will foreground the possibility of an interpretation based on a return-into-being (revenir) of identity - this temporalization of the virtual disclosing a mode of existence which at bottom constitutes the horizon of the haunting and posits the Sikh (other) as revenant.

Ironically however it may be the idea of the revenant itself which provides the key to thinking Sikh identity beyond the vacuity of a virtual ontology. This idea will be explored using insights from the work of Jacques Derrida in particular the notion of the supplement. It will be argued that the corporeal signature of the Khalsa-pre-eminently the beard, turban and the conspicuous display of weapons- is supplementary to biological masculinity and that the revenant exists in between conflicting interpretations of this fact, the disavowal or affirmation of this supplementary body determining the manifestation of the Khalsa Sikh as either, a ghostly presence or, radically other.

Thus, if Sikh studies is to be about Sikhism it must remain attentive to those excessive aspects of religious identity hitherto elided from its phenomenological accounts, signalling therefore that the ostensible openness of such studies to cultural difference conceals a desire to annex it to a monosemic model of identity.

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damn. He's just trying to be clever.

The lacuna within Sikh studies signalled by this assertion will be highlighted by problematizing the uncritical acceptance of a Sikh identity, here interrogated from the perspective of the male Khalsa subject, which has been surreptitiously reorganized in an encounter with the pernicious sympathy of modernity’s gaze.

Isn't he just saying that Sikh identity has changed? :?

And you're one to talk Mr Madra. You and McLeod and Paramjit have dazzled the hell out of me for the past few months. What the hell is "Ibid" (a reference in your books). Arrrgh!

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Amandeep please contact me by PM as I wish to claim a copy of your nice book. I've translated the paper to "just plain understandable".

In this paper I will attempt to justify the perversity of a proposition which posits the focus of Sikh studies as an object other than Sikhism.

Supposed to be humourous. He's saying he will base his Sikh studies on a different field than the religious beliefs of Sikhs. His paper will justify why this is OK.

The lacuna within Sikh studies signalled by this assertion will be highlighted by problematizing the uncritical acceptance of a Sikh identity, here interrogated from the perspective of the male Khalsa subject, which has been surreptitiously reorganized in an encounter with the pernicious sympathy of modernity’s gaze.

He's saying that in his paper he will explain how there is something missing from Sikh studies by showing up how it's a problem that the modern perception of Sikh identity has been changed in a harmful way by modernity.

What this inscrutable act of revision signals then is that Sikh identity is an object which unfolds upon the ontological horizon of the virtual.

Ontology is the field of metaphysics concerned with the nature of "being". He is saying that as a result of the changes in perception of "Sikh identity" (from the viewpoint of an MKS) brought about by modernity, Sikh identity is something that exists in the mind as an imaginary conception ("virtual"). He's saying that it's something that exists in our minds, but not in reality.

A genealogy of this event will track its inception to the deployment of masculinity , by the British in colonial India, as an icon to inscribe an underlying affinity between Sikh and Christian religious beliefs and follow the rehearsal of this colonization of difference as reflected in the recent work of Sikh studies specialists which aims to situate Sikhism firmly within the ambit of a world religions project.

The event referred to is the "act of revision", i.e. the alleged change in what the Sikh identity is (from the perspective of an MKS) that was brought about by modernity.

He is saying that the British used "masculinity" as a notion to draw parallels between the foundations of Sikh and Christian beliefs. According to him, they did so in order to establish a programme called the "colonisation of difference". The ultimate aim of this programme/conspiracy was to site Sikhism as a part of a world religions project. Presumably Sikhism was to occupy a subordinate role to Christianity in this project.

Drawing on the work of Jacques Lacan I will attempt to read the mimetic event informing colonial encounter through the notion of the mirror stage.

Mirror stage: when we first recognise that we are individual beings. It is fundamentally reactive: we see ourselves and form a conception of ego based on an artificial projection. He will examine the event of the "colonial encounter" (when the Sikhs encountered the Brits) through Lacan's mirror stage theory. He will propose that Sikhs were able to see a projection of themselves and vice versa when they encountered the British for the first time. This projection defined their sense of who they were ("ego"). Ego according to Lacan's theory is an artificial projection we form when we come up against something.

An initial reading will suggest that the coming-into-being (devenir) of Sikh identity is predicated on the eliding of a carnality which disfigures it vis-à-vis the colonial imago.

He is saying that the "Sikh identity" from the perspective of a MKS (the result of modernity starting with the encounter with the Brits) is flawed because it glosses over/omits (elides) a carnal (sexual) element. The implication is that this was at least partly due to the alleged British world religions conspiracy.

A subsequent rethinking of this event will foreground the possibility of an interpretation based on a return-into-being (revenir) of identity - this temporalization of the virtual disclosing a mode of existence which at bottom constitutes the horizon of the haunting and posits the Sikh (other) as revenant.

I had to check up on what a revenant is: I thought it was something from Doom3.

He is saying that he will propose a new interpretation of events showing things in a different light. He will propose that the proper (true) Sikh identity, unmarred by the harm caused by modernity (modernity in this context being the centralisation plan started at the time of the "encounter") existing only in the virtual (imaginary/pipe-dream) world, can come back. Revenant is a ghost that comes back after a long absence. In a way, he is proposing a Sikh renaissance.

Ironically however it may be the idea of the revenant itself which provides the key to thinking Sikh identity beyond the vacuity of a virtual ontology.

Just summing up what I said earlier. Bringing Sikh identity out of the emptiness of virtual existence into the temporal world of matter, substance and form (or relevant dimensions).

This idea will be explored using insights from the work of Jacques Derrida in particular the notion of the supplement.

Not much can be inferred from this sentence. Would have to read the full paper. What I can say is that Derrida's supplement is a signifier of something, rather than something that actually is. It's an indication of substance, rather than the substance.

It will be argued that the corporeal signature of the Khalsa-pre-eminently the beard, turban and the conspicuous display of weapons- is supplementary to biological masculinity and that the revenant exists in between conflicting interpretations of this fact, the disavowal or affirmation of this supplementary body determining the manifestation of the Khalsa Sikh as either, a ghostly presence or, radically other.

He is saying in his paper he will argue that the bodily identifiers of the Khalsa are supposed to be signals indicating masculinity (remember what he said earlier about carnality?) He is saying that the return of the long-absent ghost of the Khalsa is dependant on how the dust settles over this rather controversial point about masculinity/carnality. He will propose that this will be the crux determining whether the ghost will remain a ghost (i.e. remain a figment of imagination/memory) or whether it will come back. If it comes back, by its very nature it will be "radically other", because in its true form it doesn't try to conform with the underlying tenets of Christianity.

Thus, if Sikh studies is to be about Sikhism it must remain attentive to those excessive aspects of religious identity hitherto elided from its phenomenological accounts, signalling therefore that the ostensible openness of such studies to cultural difference conceals a desire to annex it to a monosemic model of identity.

He is saying that to study Sikhism the religion, it is necessary to be alive to the aspects of Sikh identity that have previously been "elided". He is saying that the apparent multiculturalness (?) of Sikh studies conceals a desire to "annex" (conquer) it with a monosemic model (i.e. the world religions project). Monosemic means only having one meaning.

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this paper can be found in the new journal 'sikh formations'. edited by navdeep's uncle arvind-pal singh mandair. if i get a pdf copy, i'll put it up here.

alternately, you can ask your resident 'scholar' francisco luis (aka bahadar nirmalla aka shaka nyorai) who is also at soas, and also has a paper in the above mentioned journal on 'sikh shia relations'.

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arvind is navdeep older brother

and Bruce Lung has done a really excellent job deconstructing the academic wankery that was that abstract and he even made me laugh . . .doom 3 excellent.

I think we have a winner . . unless someone can do better

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Amandeep are you are solicitor ?

if not you should be one , you could make loads of pounds :D

Simpleton like me got stuck on the first line , forget translating it can't even pronounce the words :D

I'll have a wild stab in the dark , is the paper about sikhism :D

if so then i'm on the right track and get back to you next year sometime.

On a serious note it would be good to read the whole paper but as a guess at what he is saying ( probably wrong )

Is he trying to make people aware of the real Sikh , by explaining the purpose of being a Sikh , it is not merely about having long hair , wearing the 5 Ks and server the British Empire whilst their rule in india , there is more to it than just the physical appearance

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