Searching for ontological security: changing meanings of home amongst a Punjabi diaspora

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Abstract

Drawing upon a decade of empirical research, this article examines changing meanings of ‘home’ and ontological security amongst a diasporic British Indian Punjabi community. It is argued that home is pursued, transnationally, by British South Asians and that this is significantly shaped by the dynamic social context of South Asia as well as social processes within Britain and across the South Asian diaspora. Previous studies of Punjabi and South Asian diasporic meanings of home and diasporic identities have focused primarily upon Western and intra-diasporic processes in the (re)production of meanings of home, to the relative neglect of dynamic processes in South Asia. Where the South Asian context has been considered significant, it has been represented as static and unchanging. My investigation of dynamic, contemporary social and cultural processes within Punjab reveals that consumer display is replacing the ownership and control of agricultural land and produce as the primary means through which home and ontological security is pursued by the Punjabi diaspora within India. However, this is, in turn, leading to increasing resentment and conflict between the diaspora and the permanent residents of Punjab—part of wider processes of social inclusion and exclusion which also impact upon the diasporic pursuit of home and ontological security.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-422
JournalContributions to Indian Sociology
Volume47
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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