Author ORCID Identifier

Degree Year


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Emilia Bachrach

Committee Member(s)

Corey Ladd Barnes, Chair
Cynthia R. Chapman


Punjab, Sikhism, Trauma, Identity, Operation Bluestar, The Delhi Riots, Film, Punjab 1984


This capstone analyzes Punjabi Sikh identity to expand scholarly discourse on trauma and identity formation. After providing background on Sikh roots in Punjab, this piece relates Sikh trauma from 1984 to a contemporary collective identity. In June 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi launched Operation Bluestar; troops stormed the sacred Golden Temple to capture a perceived militant, Jarnail Bhindranwale. Because hundreds of civilians died in the crossfire, Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. In retaliation, Hindu nationalists slaughtered thousands of Sikhs in the Delhi Riots. The effects of violence against Sikhs in Operation Bluestar and the Delhi riots reflect both a continued marginalization of the Punjabi Sikh community and a unique emergent collective identity. Instead of further deviating from foundational Sikh tenets, Punjabi Sikhs have begun to reclaim autonomy in defining their identity in the public sphere by confronting their collective trauma through films such as Punjab 1984 (2014).

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