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Gendered CitizenshipUnderstanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India$
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Natasha Behl

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190949426

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190949426.001.0001

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Challenging Exclusionary Inclusion

Challenging Exclusionary Inclusion

Sikh Women, Religious Community, and Devotional Acts

(p.84) 5 Challenging Exclusionary Inclusion
Gendered Citizenship

Natasha Behl

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 uses interview and participant observation data to demonstrate how Sikh women uphold and resist exclusionary inclusion in religious community. Sikh women often struggle to escape contradictory gendered norms that essentialize women as inferior, polluted, and suspect. Yet, for some women, membership in Sukhmani Seva Societies (devotional organizations) is an unexpected resource for active citizenship, where they sometimes reinforce but sometimes also resist socially prescribed gender roles. These women enact their citizenship rights through acts of devotion, which upends long-standing assumptions about religious space as inherently undemocratic. Sikh women envision and enact more egalitarian interpersonal and community relations through their devotional practices, which understand gender equality and minority rights as coexisting and human and divine agency as interdependent. Their experience suggests that religious practices can be understood as a form of active citizenship that can potentially challenge exclusionary inclusion and negotiate between state, community, and gender in new ways.

Keywords:   religious community, Sukhmani Seva Societies, democratic participation, women’s religious agency, intersectionality, gender equality, religious freedom, liberation and submission, divine and human agency, Sikhs

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