ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Religious Transnationalism and Development Initiatives: The Dera Sachkhand Ballan

This paper examines the general assumption that transnationalism is creating new divisions and iniquitous social hierarchies in caste-based social movements. By drawing on a detailed case study of the Dera Sachkhand Ballan, Punjab, it argues that for organisations such as the dsb, which are engaged in modes of subaltern religiosity, transnationalism can be a powerful agent of religious and social change. By cultivating its transnational links, especially in the United Kingdom, the dsb has now emerged as the main driver of Ravidassi identity in Punjab. This achievement would not have been possible without the material support of overseas followers for whom the building of social and religious institutions in Punjab has been intimately linked with the search for a separate Ravidassi identity and the need to demonstrate to higher castes in Punjab their sense of collective achievement. Transnationalism has thus been central to a process of differentiation between the followers of the dsb and Sikhism and has accelerated this trend since the Vienna incident in 2009.

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