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Nationalism, Religion and the Search for Chosen Traumas: Comparing Sikh and Hindu identity construction

  • Catarina Kinnvall
Publishing year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 79-106
Publication/Series: Ethnicities
Volume: 2
Issue: 1
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: SAGE Publications Inc.

Abstract english

This article proceeds from the argument that various forces of globalization have resulted in increased dislocation and uncertainty for many people in the world. Religion and nationalism, compared to most other identity constructions, are viewed as particularly relevant organizing principles at a time when modern society is making increasing demands on individuals. In comparison to much constructivist research, however, the article discusses the difficulties in understanding religious identity formation and nationhood without taking into consideration the sociopsychological aspects of category formation and the essentialization of the 'other'. To clarify the discussion, an illustrative study of religious nationalism in India is made, with a particular focus on, and comparison of, Sikh and Hindu religious nationalism. I show how, in their search for 'chosen traumas', similar processes of categorizing and demonizing the 'other' have been prevalent in both the Sikh and Hindu cases. However, while Hindus were (and are) successful in fusing nationalist and religious concerns in their attempts to monopolize both sources of self and identity, Sikhs have been less successful in integrating the two.


  • Political Science
  • nationalism
  • religion
  • India
  • Hindus
  • Sikhs


  • ISSN: 1468-7968
Catarina Kinnvall
E-mail: catarina [dot] kinnvall [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se


Department of Political Science

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