Sikh Book Club Announcement – Uncle Swami

uncleswami.jpgIt has been nearly four years since we last attempted this. Back then, we attempted TLH’s very first book club, by examining Gurharpal Singh’s and Darshan Singh Tatla’s Sikhs in Britain: The Making of a Community. This round we are suggesting Vijay Prasad’s Uncle Swami.

Although the book is aimed at issues centered around South Asian American experiences, it may be useful and enlightening to see how well they fit, shape, and interest Sikh-American experiences.

The Book:

From the jacket:

Within hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center, misdirected assaults on Sikhs and other South Asians flared in communities across the nation, serving as harbingers of a more suspicious, less discerning, and increasingly fearful worldview that would drastically change ideas of belonging and acceptance in America.

Weaving together distinct strands of recent South Asian immigration to the United States, Uncle Swami creates a richly textured discussion of a diverse and dynamic people whose identities are all too often lumped together, glossed over, or simply misunderstood. Continuing the conversation sparked by his celebrated work The Karma of Brown Folk, Prashad confronts the experience of migration across an expanse of generations and class divisions, from the birth of political activism among second-generation immigrants and the meteoric rise of South Asian American politicians in Republican circles to migrant workers, who are at the mercy of the vicissitudes of the American free market.

A powerful new indictment of cultural and racial politics in America at the dawn of the twenty-first century, Uncle Swami restores a diasporic community to its full-fledged complexity, beyond both model minorities and the specters of terrorism.

The Author:

For those interested in issues related to South Asian Americans, Professor Vijay Prasad needs little introduction. The author of The Karma of Brown Folkshas been one of the foremost thinkers and scholars on the subject of identity politics and identity formation of South Asians in the Unitd States.

There has been plenty of criticism of his politics, book, and writings. All of these are pertinent and can allow for a more nuanced discussion. Still his voice is important and calls out for discussion.

The Format:

  • Part 1 (Monday, 7/16) – Chapter 1 (Letter to Uncle Swami) and Chapter 2 (The Day Our Probation Ended)
  • Part 2 (Monday, 7/23) – Chapter 3 (The India Lobby) and Chapter 4 (How Hindus Became Jews)
  • Part 3 (Monday, 7/30) – Chapter 5 (Compulsions of Ethnicity) and Chapter 6 (The Honeycomb Comes Apart)

What to do from here:

  • Order the book ASAP. Dont delay as we are going to begin in one week.
  • Invite others and help us spread the word!
  • If you are going to participate, leave a short introduction here in the comment section and let us know that you plan to take part.
  • Be ready in 1 week!

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13 Responses to “Sikh Book Club Announcement – Uncle Swami”

  1. nuanceishard says:

    Really difficult having a nuanced conversation using much of prashads previous work. He translates south asian American history through the lens of his comitted ideology. He is an absolute believer in the way he sees the world and other people. I even doubt he understands how a south asian could be a conservative or even just a republican without being anything other than a sellout. People who don’t agree aren’t going to want to stick around necessarily to defend their basic worldview from such one sided attack. He’s a somewhat effective writer of polemic histories. I’ll read the book but won’t participate in a book club because it would be only under the pretense of full discussion. If tlh decides to ever be a forum with a full diversity of thought that would be better.

  2. jodha says:

    Absolutely agreed "nuanceishard" – if you have other suggestions of books – we can take them on as well so that we can have a "full diversity of thought"

  3. nuanceishard says:

    Ok i will look into it

  4. Sanehval says:

    I'm in. I heard Brooklynwala is in it.

  5. nuanceishard says:

    Ps i have a self made tee shirt with a quotation from one of his previous books

  6. brooklynwala says:

    thanks for posting jodha. i recently read the book and had been wanting to write up a review on it making the connection to sikh (american) issues, but have been a bit busy with travels. as for "nuanceishard"'s comment, every writer has a perspective, and that is hardly a reason to dismiss vijay's work. you can disagree with him, yes, but his contributions to these discussions in the south asian american diaspora have been extremely important and necessary in a context of growing hindutva and narrow conservatism amongst desi– ideologies where nuance hardly thrives and instead essentialism rules the day. in the united states. dinesh d'souza has sold a lot more books that vijay prashad, to be sure. unfortunately. as for TLH being a forum for a "full diversity" of thought, i'm not even sure what that means, but we are explicitly a progressive sikh blog, though TLH does encompass writings from a wide variety of perspectives and experiences.

  7. brooklynwala says:

    and yes, i will participate in the book club discussion!

  8. nuanceishard says:

    Typically dismissive. Full diversity of thought means exactly that, the sikh community is not ideologically monolithic and a sikh forum on social thought would not be closed as to what kind of ideology was correct. Anyway for the millionth time its sad that you are so sure of the rightness of your approach that you dismiss so much. If you can’t understand other people you will only make change by prevailing over them. I’ll get the qoute, its on a shirt with a picture of bhagat singh titled inquilab. It’s not really difficult to understand the nascent ideology taken here, i was pretty familiar with it for years and a true believer firmly convinced. But then i realized this view is predicated on a strict disrespect and disregard of those considered on the other side. And surely that is not what gurubani means for us

  9. kuri in boots says:

    The book club is a great idea: I'm in!

  10. nuanceishard says:

    Quote is…if i am to be one ( a martyr) let it be in the cause of brotherhood. I’ve learned it the hard way but I’ve learned it. M shabazz. The rest apparently includes the line, its the only thing that can save this country