1st Edition

Punjab Sounds In and Beyond the Region

Edited By Kapuria Radha, Vebhuti Duggal Copyright 2025
    248 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Punjab Sounds nuances our understanding of the region's imbrications with sound. It argues that rather than being territorially bounded, the region only emerges in ‘regioning’,  i.e., in words, gestures, objects and techniques that do the region. Regioning sound reveals the relationship between sound and the region in three interlinked ways: in doing, knowing, and feeling the region through sound.

    The volume covers several musical genres of the Punjab region, including within its geographical remit the Punjabi diaspora and east and west Punjab. It also provides new understandings of the role that ephemeral cultural expressions, especially music and sound play in the formulation of Punjabi identity. Featuring contributions from scholars across North America, South Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom, it brings together diverse perspectives. The essays use a range of different methods, ranging from computational analysis and ethnography to close textual analysis, demonstrating some of the ways in which research on music and sound can be carried out.

    The essays will be relevant for anyone working on Punjab’s music including the Punjabi diaspora, music and sound in the Global South. Moreover, it will be useful for undergraduate and postgraduate students in the following areas: Ethnomusicology, Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Music Studies, South Asian Studies, Punjab Studies, History, Sound Studies among others.

    ●       Foreword by Ira Bhaskar (Professor (retd) of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India.)


    1.     Introduction

    Regioning Sound from South Asia

    Vebhuti Duggal (Assistant Professor in Film Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi) and

    Radha Kapuria (Assistant Professor in South Asian History, University of Durham)


    I. Aural Signs of the Region

    2.    One Transnation under a Groove: ‘Chaal’ and the Modern Punjabi Soundscape

    Gibb Schreffler (Associate Professor of Music at Pomona College, California)


    3.   Sound and Politics of Classical Music in West Punjab

    Ghulam Ali Shair (Graduate Student in Sociology, University of Warwick)


    4. Mixing the legends–Changing Representations of Nostalgia in Diasporic Punjabi remix culture

    Julia Szivak (Assistant Lecturer,Pazmany Peter Catholic University, Budapest)


    II. Soundscapes of the Punjab

    5.  Trinjan Audiotopias: Complaint, Desire, and the Bawdy in Punjabi Giddha Performance Practices

    Kiran Sunar (Assistant Professor in Punjabi Language, Literature, and Culture at the University of British Columbia) and Ranbir Johal (Lecturer, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Vancouver)


    6. Folkloric Poetic Traditions and Gender Relations: An Ethnomusicological Study of Sithnian as a Celebratory Resistance in the Punjab

    Sumera Saleem (Assistant Professor of Literature, University of Sargodha)


    7.   Mapping Punjab Sounds: Two popular Songs about Agriculture and Pottery

            Sakoon Singh (Assistant Professor in Literature, Panjab University, Chandigarh)


    8. Decoding Loudness: The Punjabi Soundscape in Bollywood

    Shikha Jhingan (Associate Professor in Film Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi) 





    III. Mediating Regional Sound  

    9. Modernity, Modality, and Meaning: Technological Mediation of Śabad Kīrtan at the Golden Temple

    Kirit James Singh (PhD in Ethnomusicology, SOAS, University of London)


                10.  Identity and affect: Exploring technology and the sonic in Dalit Music in Punjab

    Radhika Kumar (Assistant Professor in Political Science, Motilal Nehru College, University of Delhi)


    11. “Love From India”: YouTube Qawwālī as Affective Solidarity in India-Pakistan Relations

    Thomas Graves (Doctoral candidate in Ethnomusicology, Durham University)


    ●       Afterword: Coda by Virinder Kalra (Professor in Sociology, University of Warwick)

    ●       Acknowledgments

    ●       Index 


    Radha Kapuria is Assistant Professor of South Asian History at Durham University, UK, and the author of Music in Colonial Punjab: Courtesans, Bards, and Connoisseurs, 1800-1947.

    Vebhuti Duggal is Assistant Professor in Film Studies at the School of Culture and Creative Expressions, Ambedkar University, Delhi and Associate Editor of the journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies.

    This sonically textured study of Punjab goes beyond a circulation of stereotype and defies monolithic notions of history, region, topology, gender, and human expression. Radha Kapuria and Vebhuti Duggal compile an original set of thoughtful essays where a sensory engagement with the region is infused with deeply vibrant, intertextual narratives that bring a new nuance to our larger understanding of how sound shapes territories and identities.
    Gurminder K. Bhogal, Catherine Mills Davis Professor in Music, Wellesley College, Massachusetts.

    Can Punjab as a region be heard, felt, touched, and seen simultaneously through scholarship that focusses on soundscapes and sound studies? Spanning across the historical to the contemporary on YouTube, this interdisciplinary collection of fine and original essays shows us the way and how to do it. Punjab Sounds has much to offer and is a gift to the wider field of enquiry. 
    ­Rajinder Dudrah, Professor of Cultural Studies and Creative Industries, Birmingham City University.

    Suturing the mythic and the historic, the devotional and the divided, this cross-disciplinary volume attunes us to the worlding possibility of sound. It is also a pioneering performance that refigures region – Punjab in this case – via its translocally audible and creaturely forms.
    Omar Kasmani, Guest Lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin.

    Punjab Sounds is a seminal contribution that reframes debates on region formation within South Asia, unravels some of the conceptual straitjackets, and suggests the potential for rethinking the region through sonic practices and affects. Spanning several key developments across colonial and post-colonial South Asia and exploring myriad themes, technologies, sound objects and musical forms, each chapter provides substantive methodological insights into researching sound practices and region formation.  It brings into colloquy the fields of ethnomusicology, sound studies, film and media studies, performance studies, history, and religious studies.  The book will be an undeniably valuable resource for students and scholars of these fields and will appeal to a wide range of readers in higher education and the general public alike. 
    Bindu Menon, Associate Professor in Media Studies, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru.