Sikh Socio-spatialities of the American West

Authors: Heather Benson*, University of Nevada
Topics: Ethnic Geography, Cultural Geography, Religion
Keywords: Sikhism, ethnicity, American West, migration, diaspora
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8226, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Regardless of their fast-growing population and presence in the United States, nearly 60% of Americans admit to knowing nothing about Sikhs. The present study gives visibility to Sikhs as an ethno-religious minority group in the United States through the lens of human geography, and establishes a foundation for contemporary Sikh-related geographic studies. This paper presents a review of the literature and a history of Sikh movement and settlement to provide an answer to the question: What can places in the American West reveal about Sikh socio-spatialities? Documenting the everyday experiences of Sikhs in mainstream society reveals a complex geography of Sikh life in different social spaces. For many, this means marginalization, while for some, spaces of acceptance are found. This paper attempts a nuanced account that incorporates individual, material, and conceptual entanglements of the Sikh experience by studying the fine print of the everyday lives in a range of socio-spatial contexts. The examples discussed in this research illustrate these complex geographies in particular social spaces within the American West.

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