There Is No Colonial Relationship: Antagonism, Sikhism, and South Asian Studies

This article identifies how scholars have displaced antagonism within histories of Sikhism and South Asian Studies more broadly. In contrast to this displacement, this article foregrounds antagonism by taking into account a third element within the presumed colonizer and colonized relationship: a curved space of nonrelation that signals there can be no colonial relationship. By considering the constitutive nature of antagonism within social reality that remains unable to be demarcated, this article examines the generative principles of Sikh practices and concepts that both structure Sikhism's institutions and productively conceptualize this antagonism. Examining these concepts and practices, I consider the possibility of different modes of both historical being and becoming not bound within our current conceptual rubrics. These different possibilities culled through Sikh concepts and theories demand we reflect upon the rabble: those unable to be contained within colonial civil society or within attempts by the colonized for self-determination in political societies. This void then fractured Sikh reform organizations historically, providing multiple avenues for politics unaccountable within our bifurcated and asymmetrical understandings of civil society and political societies and colonizer and colonized.