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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



My Masters thesis focuses on socialist Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh’s memory in contemporary Pakistani Punjab. I use the analytical category of memory to argue that Bhagat Singh is invoked by various groups and individuals, specifically those who identify as leftists or Marxists, in contemporary Pakistan to serve a range of political purposes. My analysis particularly sheds light on how activists and writers use the figure of Bhagat Singh to highlight the erasure of regional and lingual identities in Pakistan. Their remembrances underline a perceived historical injustice; the imposition of a national identity based on Urdu language and Sunni Muslim-ness, which tended to marginalize Punjabi ethno-lingual identities. Using my ethnographic research, I further argue that Bhagat Singh and his afterlives in leftist progressive narratives also capture the tensions and differences among the Punjabi intellectuals and activists themselves. Due to the lack of adequate archival sources, my research draws heavily on oral history and contemporary Punjabi poetry and prose that I meticulously collected during my trips to Lahore in the past two years. I transcribed and translated this material from Punjabi into English on my own. Finally in my analysis of gendered literary language, I also demonstrate how mourning, and hope coexist in the Punjabi contemporary emancipatory imagination. Such overlaps illustrate how the past is continuously in dialogue with the present.


First Advisor

Professor Priyanka Srivastava

Second Advisor

Professor Jennifer Heuer