My research project here is a study of the socio-religious history of the walled city of Amritsar In India after Independence. The main focus of study is the history of everyday lives and work experiences of people inhabiting the walled city of Amritsar. The study is based on Oral history and ethnographic field work. These experiences are recovered from the voices of the people themselves through recording conversations, memories, and interviews with city communities of merchant, traders, petty retailers and shopkeepers, artisanal groups, street and roadside food sellers, craftsmen, owners of eateries, migrant labourers and religious preachers, members of religious institutions. The subjects of oral conversation and interviews include: religious festivals and traditions, practices and institutions (temples, gurdwaras, mosques and Sufi shrines), business practices and commercial systems, crafts, traditional food, family life, neighbourhood, specialties of arts, and forms of entertainments, popular music and sports and environment and ecological experiences, etc.
Also useful in capturing the lived lives of these people my ethnographic field survey along with descriptions in district gazetteers have been important for identifying the diversity of walled city communities, the nature of kinship networks, residential preferences of neighborhoods based on caste and kin, cultural and religious practices, and specialization in specific business and commercial enterprises. The study looks into the question of continuities and changes in social, religious and cultural forms and practices in everyday life of the city inhabitants during the past 70 years. This is important in the context of the contemporary Indian urban landscape which is experiencing huge changes and demographic expansions.
The study also explores and seeks answers to the questions how the walled city and its inhabitants recovered from traumas and adverse effects of political events: partition, the two Indo-Pak Wars on its borders in 1965 and 1971 and the political crises posed by Sikh militancy during 1980s and 1990s. For the first time in the history of the city the relationship between Hindu and Sikh religious communities was serious tested during the years of Sikh militancy.
Sabyasachi Bhattacharya and Rana P. Behal (ed), The Vernacularizaion of Labour Politics (New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2016).
Rana P. Behal, ‘South Asia’ in Marcel van der Linden and Karin Hofmeester (eds.), Handbook: The Global History of Work (Walter de Gruyter: Munich, 2018).
Rana P. Behal, Chitra Joshi and Prabhu P Mohapatra, ‘Dialogues Across Borders: Marcel van der Linden and the AILH, in Karl Heinz Roth (ed.), “On the road to global labour history”- A, Festschrift for Marcel van der Linden (Leiden: Brill, 2018).
Rana Behal, ’Det informella arbetets värld i Indien', Arbetarhistoria, 165-166 (2018: 1-2), p 17-38. Swedish Tranlation. Translation.
Max-Weber-Kolleg für kultur- und sozialwissenschaftliche Studien Universität Erfurt Postfach 90 02 21 99105 Erfurt