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Beyond Yellow EnglishToward a Linguistic Anthropology of Asian Pacific America$
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Angela Reyes and Adrienne Lo

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327359

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327359.001.0001

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Turban Narratives

Turban Narratives

Discourses of Identification and Difference among Punjabi Sikh Families in Los Angeles

(p.111) 7 Turban Narratives
Beyond Yellow English

Wendy L. Klein

Oxford University Press

Sikh beliefs and practices are changing in the American diaspora, and many second generation youth are actively reconstituting moral stances toward the spiritual, linguistic, and material aspects of Sikh life. In open‐ended interviews with Punjabi Sikh families in Los Angeles, the turban surfaces as a mediating device for positioning one's identity in relation to family, community, and the world at large. Narratives include accounts of socializing children, making personal decisions related to Sikh practices, and experiencing or witnessing acts of harassment carried out by those who construe semiotic indices of Sikh identity as either transgressions of secular norms or as representations of other ethnoreligious categories. Second generation narratives, in particular, reveal a recognition of the need for youth to manage their identities as a process that includes monitoring and diffusing the reactions of strangers since the events of September 11, 2001.

Keywords:   Sikh, narrative, turban, identity, diaspora

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