chapter  8
Performing the Panjabi Body
Pages 24

Before moving on to examine the signification of the body of Bhangra in contemporary culture, this chapter indicates the national geography of ethnicity that the body of Bhangra must engage with. Embodiment has been historically central to Panjabi self-definition since the production of the khalsa body during the Mughul period and that of the martial races in British imperialism. Dancing and singing were traditionally labelled feminine pursuits and delegated to performer castes of mirasis. While the Bhangra body is as Hindu and Muslim as it is Sikh, it is imbricated with the Sikh body in the Indian national imaginary and, as a result, becomes the site for the mapping of Sikh identity. The non-Panjabi identification with Bhangra performance in Bollywood film requires a simultaneous dis-identification, a schizophrenic split that might be interpreted against the stereotyped representation of panjabiyat in other Indian imaginaries.