SOAS University of London

South East Asia Section, School of Languages, Cultures & Linguistics

Sangeeta Bhardwaj

BEd in The Teaching of English as a Second Language, MA in Postcolonial Literature in English
  • Overview


Sangeeta Bhardwaj
Ms Sangeeta Bhardwaj
Email address:
Thesis title:
Malaysia/Singapore Literature in English: Representations of the Malaysian Punjabi Community
Year of Study:
Final Year

PhD Research

This research looks at the representation of the Punjabi community in Malaysian and Singaporean Literature in English. The aim here is: to analyse how these writings support, or contradict, historical narratives pertaining to the Punjabi migration to Malaya (now Malaysia); to examine if there is a common collective consciousness in these writings; to study the creation of the Malaysian Punjabi identity, in other words how this group has assimilated into becoming Malaysian as represented in these works; and to see if these writings are actually an allegory of the mixed community in Malaysia. In carrying out this research, the thesis starts by first examining the representations of the Punjabis in early Malaysian writings in English – these were works by European writes who were mostly expatriates, officials, and travellers - at the time when Malaya was a British colony as this was the period when there was the influx of Punjabi migration to Malaya. The study then moves to look at self-representation or how the Punjabi Malaysian/Singaporean writers represent their community in writings in English. Thus the analysis of the texts is carried chronologically, beginning with the early European writings in English in Malaya to the works of Punjabi writers of Modern Malaysia. The works of Singapore Punjabi writers in English are included in this study as Singapore Punjabis share the samehistory of migration to Malaya, for Singapore was part of Malaya until 1963 when it became a separate country from Malaysia. As for its framework of analysis, this study is purely texts based and therefore uses discourse analysis as its method of data collection. The theory of Postcolonialism and its concepts such as ‘the imagined community’; ‘hybridity’, ‘migration’, ‘diaspora’ and so on informs as the methodology of this study. Though considerable research has been carried out on the representation of the Indian diaspora in Malaysian Literature in English, this research differs from the rest in the sense that it studies the Punjabis in the country. Most studies to date have focused on the South Indian to be specific the Tamil community in the country. This research however by the position it takes in studying the Malaysian Punjabi, and in doing so actually highlighting the heterogeneity of the Indian community in Malaysia, as well as bringing to the centre of attention writers in Malaysia who are of Punjabi origin, this research fills a gap in the study of the ‘the Indian diaspora in Malaysian’, and thus makes its contribution of knowledge in field of ‘Malaysian Literature in English’.


  • 2009 Hyderabad, India: Conference on Media Studies. Paper presented: Re-presenting Ravan: Media and the Re-visioning of Socio-Cultural History.
  • 2006 Mysore, India: Conference on the works of R.K. Narayan. Paper presented: The Latent Re-visioning of History: R.K. Narayan’s A Tiger for Malgudi.