Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Subho Basu

Second Advisor

Alan Allport


Indian Workers Association, Jagmohan Joshi, Punjabi migration, Racial Capitalism, Radicalism, Udham Singh

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities


Situated between early instances of economic migration from Punjab in the 1920s and the disintegration of the Labour Movement in the 1980s, this dissertation examines the political and social formation of Punjabis in twentieth century Britain. This project offers a discursive corrective to analyses of the British working-class that exclude or ignore the presence of thousands of nonwhite workers that came to the United Kingdom during that period and offers an assessment of the multiracial constitution of the British working-class and labour movement. As a contribution to South Asian history, this dissertation pursues a deterritorialized study of South Asian and Punjabi history -- as a history of people rather than a place. By bridging the historiographical divide of partition and independence, this project explores the significant interplay between the histories and struggles of host and home societies. These struggles were often mutually reinforcing for migrants, who, because they exist at the interstices of both societies, were mobilized by events near and far. Rather than insisting on the primary and definitive importance that one or the other place, native or host society, has on the development of ideologies, alliances, or cultures, this dissertation posits that they are historically produced, for mobile people, out of movement, interaction, and experience. Thus, this project centers on transnational connections and intergroup alliances, what I call migrant internationalism, as an essential medium through which to understand the history of South Asian migrant workers in Britain.


Open Access