Modern Punjabi Literature & Arts: Ongoing Research

Writing Punjabi across borders:

The poetics and politics of a transnational language movement

With the generous support of the SSHRC Insight Grant program (2017-22), Professor Anne Murphy is constructing 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 through 2022, brings 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.

This project involves in-depth interviews with members of the Punjabi-language literary community in India, Pakistan, and the UK/Ireland; it is linked the “Punjabi in BC” project, which focuses on Punjabi language advocacy and cultural production in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. Editing of the interviews has been completed by Raghavendra Rao K.V. and Navneet Aujla, graduate in 2018 of UBC with a minor in Asian Studies, and Lovneet Aujla (graduate in 2019 with a minor in Asian Studies), with some early work by Alanna Coady (now a PhD student at UBC-O). 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. UBC’s Work Learn program has provided additional support for student assistance with research and editing, as has a contribution by an anonymous donor to the Department of History, University of British Columbia.

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.