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The sport of lions: the Punjabi-Sikh sporting experience: a study into the place of sport in the socio-cultural landscape of Punjabi-Sikhs in Britain

By Sanjiev Johal


By first detailing the religious, cultural and sporting heritage of Punjabi-Sikhs, the study focuses on how this sporting legacy of has been translated in Britain and how such translation has served to augment the perceived cultural traditions of British Punjabi-Sikhs. The inception of the Shaheedi Games tournaments and the proliferation of all-Punjabi-Sikh football teams are located within the wider phenomenon of post-war South Asian immigration to Britain. The first-hand oral testimonies of pioneering Punjabi-Sikh immigrants serve to script the narrative of the history and evolution of these tournaments. This work is also ethnographically informed through my association/interaction with a Punjabi-Sikh football club. The players/affiliates of this club provided a research environment and subject base allowing the investigation of their manifold identification with sport.\ud \ud The subjects of playing football and supporting professional football teams, along with the conspicuous absence of South Asians from top-flight professional football are used to highlight issues of racism(s) and the (re)negotiations of ethnic, cultural and regional identities. The Shadeedi Games tournaments are unique Punjabi-Sikh sporting/cultural events that have profound significance for Punjabi-Sikhs. The themes/principles of the carnival inform the discussion/exposition of these tournaments and point to their assumed counter-cultural motifs.\ud \ud This thesis aims to disavow uncritical conjecture that denies South Asians a diverse and prominent sporting pedigree/prowess. By uncovering and exploring the Punjabi-Sikh history and experience of sport, this thesis illustrates how this specific British South Asian community has an established, accomplished and multifariously dynamic identification with sport

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