Fighting for Faith and Nation
Dialogues with Sikh MilitantsUniversity of Pennsylvania Press Contemporary Ethnography
The ethnic and religious violence that characterized the late twentieth century calls for new ways of thinking and writing about politics. Listening to the voices of people who experience political violence—either as victims or as perpetrators—gives new insights into both the sources of violent conflict and the potential for its resolution.
Drawing on her extensive interviews and conversations with Sikh militants, Cynthia Keppley Mahmood presents their accounts of the human rights abuses inflicted on them by the state of India as well as their explanations of the philosophical tradition of martyrdom and meaningful death in the Sikh faith. While demonstrating how divergent the world views of participants in a conflict can be, Fighting for Faith and Nation gives reason to hope that our essential common humanity may provide grounds for a pragmatic resolution of conflicts such as the one in Punjab which has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the past fifteen years.
"Highly recommended."—Library Journal
"Mahmood brilliantly interweaves Sikh militants' narratives-their aspirations, fears, beliefs, and actions-with an understanding of India's Khalistan movement in particular and of contemporary political conflict in general. . . . Fighting for Faith and Nation provides the theoretical and methodological tools for understanding the politics of violence and militancy and the troubled concepts of nation and freedom. More important, it provides a sensitive and responsible approach to difficult and contentious issues-to matters, literally, of life and death."—Carolyn Nordstrom, University of California, Berkeley
"A stunning presentation of narrative ethnography, achieving the remarkable feat of forcing the reader to enter into the world-and the world view-of those whom most of us would regard as terrorists. The issues this book raises cannot be ignored."—Mark Juergensmeyer, University of California, Santa Barbara