Arunajeet on ‘samelan-nite’ at California conference

California, US  | Asia Samachar |11 May 2015


Dr Arunajeet Kaur, Singapore
Dr Arunajeet Kaur, Singapore

Singaporean Dr. Arunajeet Kaur was one of the invited speakers at a three-day conference on Sikh studies at the University of California, Riverside, US, that ended on May 10.

The annual conference was sponsored by the Department of Religious Studies, and the Dr. Jasbir Singh Saini Endowed Chair in Sikh and Punjabi studies, according to a pre-event statement from the organisers.

Dr Arunajeet, listed as an independent consultant from Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS), was scheduled to speak on “Being a ‘Samelan-nite’: Participation in Sikh youth groups and Sikhi camps in Malaysia and Singapore.”

In Malaysia and Singapore, samelans usually refers to the Gurmat camps organised by the various Sikh organisations, including the youth-based bodies like Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM)  and the Sikh Sewaks Singapore.

She was one of the three speakers listed for Panel #2: Sikh Socio-Political Activism and the ‘Camping’ Movement. [For full list, see here].

The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Gurmohan Singh Walia, the vice chancellor of Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University, Fatehgarh Sahib in Punjab, India.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Living and Making Sikhi in the Diaspora: The Millennial Generation Comes of Age.”

The term Millennials, or Generation Y, has been applied to the generation reaching young adulthood in the early 2000s. This is the generation that has grown up during the current era of globalization characterized by increased global interconnections and consciousness thereof, explained Pashaura Singh, UCR professor of Sikh Studies and chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

Politically, their lives have been shadowed by a “global war on terror.” Economically, they have experienced a global economic recession. Culturally, they came of age as “digital natives” for whom the Internet and other forms of information technology connect them to others near and far, Singh said.

“Among Sikhs in the diaspora, Millennials are frequently a generation or more removed from ancestral roots in Punjab. These are young Sikhs who have been born and raised in North America, the U.K., Australia, and throughout Europe, whose grandparents or parents emigrated between the 1950s and 1980s.

“Their worldviews and life experiences thus reflect the societies in which they have been born and raised, and their experience of Punjab is often limited or second-hand. As a result, questions of distinguishing Sikhi (Sikh practices) from Punjabiyat (Punjabi culture) and of representing Sikhism and Sikh interests to others in the multicultural and religiously pluralist cultures in which they live are often at the forefront of their concerns,” he said in the same statement.


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