Sara Bonfanti: Tying the Turban: Gendered Religious Fashion among Sikh Diasporas (in “Embodying religion, gender and sexuality”, 2020)


Tying the Turban: Gendered Religious Fashion among Sikh Diasporas

This contribution undertakes an ethnographic analysis of the shifting meaning that the dastar (turban), as a gendered body marker, may represent for the Sikh diaspora in countries of resettlement. Drawing from extensive fieldwork in Italy and Britain, this chapter focuses upon the transnational disruption between first and further migrant generations, discussing lived accounts of turban wearing among Sikh young women and men in different private or public spaces. Whether at home, in the streets or in the gurdwara, donning the turban ranges from eager adoption to reluctant desertion, bearing visual witness to personal and historical narratives. Explicitly, the reshuffle of Sikh hyper-masculinity, historically embedded in the iconography of dastar, runs parallel to the upsurge of women’s dastar fashion, revealing the emergence of evermore assertive feminine subjectivities. Rather than being one sacred dress-code, the enactment of tying the turban engenders multiple positionalities, where body aesthetics unfolds layers of competing social ethics.

Latest trend of dastar donning (Garland Mag, 2/2016)

The book chapter is included inthe volume: Embodying Religion, Gender and Sexuality, Edited By Sarah-Jane Page, Katy Pilcher (Aston University) and published by Routledge (copyright 2021).

Taking the notion of embodiment as a starting point, this volume maps the interconnecting relationships between religion, gender and sexuality. The chapters highlight how the body – its location, the narratives that surround it, its movement and negotiations – is central to understanding these multifaceted relationships. The contributors recognise the ways in which gender and sexuality are crucial to how we embody religion and encourage a more complex and nuanced understanding of embodied religion. The material is organised according to three central themes: (1) the relationship between the religious and the secular; (2) power, regulation and resistance; and (3) the symbolism of gendered bodies. Cutting across a range of disciplinary perspectives, Embodying Religion, Gender and Sexuality will be relevant to students of sociology, anthropology, gender and sexuality studies, theology and religious studies.