Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

The Security State and Securitizing Patriarchies in Postcolonial India

Grewal, Inderpal; Kaur, Dipin; Sabherwal, Sasha
Social Text

This article examines the shifting nature of patriarchy and gender among Sikhs in Indian Punjab through the 1980s and into the 1990s in relation to the Indian state’s counterinsurgent policies and practices. The authors’ research reveals that Sikh masculinities were altered during its separatist insurgency as the patriarchal state and communities both relied on violence for their own ends. Specifically, the article argues that the regimes of precolonial and colonial militarism, which constructed hegemonic notions of Sikh masculinity in service to the colonial and postcolonial state, were altered in this period, and that a dominant caste-based warrior masculinity came to be fractured to include a more securitized version. The authors see the targeting of Sikhs as part of a broader process of postcolonial nation making through militarism and security that alters the nature of its patriarchy. The article draws from interviews and fieldwork in Punjab, textual analysis of primary sources, human rights reports, and news articles to reveal the shifting nature of gender and patriarchy in the transnational security state.