Individual and Communal Transformation through Seva in a Sikh Community

Lauren Nippoldt (PI)


Lauren's current proposed dissertation project is to investigate the practice of seva (selfless service) which is a form of voluntary social work among Sikhs in India. She is interested in how the practice of seva transforms moral personhood, reputation, and community among sevadars (practitioners of seva) and how such transformations impact wellbeing, healing, and intercommunity harmony. Sikhs, as a minority group in India, have suffered trauma and violence, and Lauren is interested in how seva may be a way for them to heal from this past trauma and to work towards better relationships with other religious and ethnic communities in India. Lauren is also interested in how different subject positions impact the moral experience of doing seva (for example, younger women receive more criticism for engaging in seva, whereas older men do not).