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Accurate but insipid
on 26 October 2006
Nesbitt's book has all the positive qualities one associates with the VSI series: it is clear, well-presented, readable and accurate. Just the sort of book Sikhs might think about giving to their non-Sikh friends and colleagues. There's a bit of theology, a touch of culture; politics makes an appearance, as does sociology. All the boxes seem to have been ticked.
But there's the rub: reading it feels like a box-ticking exercise. Nowhere does the author try to capture the allure of Sikhism. Why would anyone want to be a Sikh? What is it about the faith that its believers find so attractive? What does Sikhi feel like from the inside?
Of course the author can't answer those questions - she is not a Sikh. But she can ask them, both in her capacity as an ethnographer and, as she puts it, an intellectual questioner. One for the second edition perhaps?