Modern Punjabi Literature & Arts: Ongoing Research

With the generous support of the SSHRC Insight Grant program (2017-22), Professor Anne Murphy¬†will construct a social and cultural history of the modern Punjabi language movement and its creative expressions from the 1940s to the present in multiple locations around the globe, with attention to early modern antecedents. The goal of the project overall is to understand and analyze this language movement, its cultural products, and the political and social imaginaries associated with it. It builds on an Insight Development grant (“Modern Punjabi Literature and the Pursuit of the Secular,” 2013-5, extended to 2016) that explored the social imaginaries that undergird the choice for Punjabi in diverse locations–India, Pakistan, Canada, and the UK–and the political possibilities that it represents across and within national boundaries. The Insight Development project allowed for preliminary exploration of writing and writers, including extensive interviews in Pakistan, India, the UK, and Canada that are being made available on this site. The Insight Grant project, which is ongoing until 2022, will bring this research to fruition, exploring the history of Punjabi language cultural production broadly–given the dearth of scholarship on this topic in English–and contextualizing its social and political commitments.

As a part of this project, Dr. Murphy has conducted in-depth interviews with members of the Punjabi-language literary community in India, Pakistan, Canada, and the UK; filmmaker Ajay Bhardwaj (also a Ph.D. student in the Department of Asian Studies) and artist Raghavendra Rao K.V. also conducted research interviews for the project (as indicated on each interview); editing of the interviews has been completed by Rao and Navneet Aujla, recent graduate (2018) of UBC with a minor in Asian Studies, with some early work by Alanna Coady. Editing of the videos was supported though Dr. Murphy’s participation in the Peter Wall Institute of Advanced Studies “Wall Scholar” program in 2016-7, and through the SSHRC Insight Grant program.

Explore interviews in different locations:

New Delhi


Indian Punjab (various locations)

the UK and Republic of Ireland

Please return to the site regularly to see newly edited short interviews.