HARJANT GILL /// The Body and its Rites of Passage: Sikhism and Masculinity in Indian Punjab


In this interview, film-anthropologist Harjant Gill introduces the figure of the young rural Sikh man in Indian Punjab, who later migrates to the capital city, Chandigarh or abroad. We base our conversation both on Harjant’s thesis that presents a research about the (normative) notion of masculinity constructed within these young migrants’ imaginaries (through cinema for example), as well as on his film Roots of Love (see below), which introduces the bodily characteristics that a Sikh man must present continuously, in particular the unshorn hair and the turban covering it. Harjant and I thus talk about this particular object that enfolds within it a particular sense of collective identity.

Harjant Gill is an assistant professor of anthropology and cultural studies at Towson University, Maryland. He received his PhD from American University. His academic research examines the intersections of masculinity, modernity and migration in South Asia. Dr. Gill is also a documentary filmmaker and has made several films that have screened at film festivals worldwide and won numerous awards. His latest documentary, Roots of Love explores the changing significance of hair and turban among Sikhs and is being screened on BBC World News, BBC America, Doordarshan (Indian National TV) and on PBS channels nationwide. Dr. Gill also co-directs the Society for Visual Anthropology Film & Media Festival.




– “The Young Sikh, his Hair and his Turban: Roots of Love by Harjant Gill” (January 26, 2014)


– Radhika Chopra, Migrant and Militant: The Politics and Social History of Punjab, Routledge India, 2011.
– Brian K. Axel, Nation’s Tortured Body: Representation, and the Formation of a Sikh “Diaspora”, Duke University Press, 2001.
– C.J. Pascoe, Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School, University of California Press, 2007.


Roots of Love by Harjant Gill (2011)