The Sound of Religious Architecture: Using Sikh Musical Traditions and Postmodern Technologies to Produce Space in Northern Virginia


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This thesis explores kirtan as a musical practice that travels across a variety of geographically unbounded cultural landscapes (“-scapes”) with the aid of global social networks, postmodern transportation technologies, and technologies of space-time compression. The research employs the use of participant observation, participant interviews, literary analyses, and media analyses to determine how the kirtan brought to Fairfax Station (re)produces no fewer than three spatial identities associated with the gurdwara in Fairfax Station: a Sikh religious space, a Punjabi/Indian ethnic space, and a space of social (gender) (re)production. The author concludes with a discussion about how the kirtan practices (re)produced at the Sikh Foundation (and other gurdwaras) travels outward into new spaces, expanding the global Sikh religioscape and Punjabi/Indian ethnoscape, influencing the gender expectations and hierarchies that dominate those spaces, and informing the production of new educational spaces.