Authority in the Virtual Sangat
Sikhism, Ritual and Identity in the Twenty-First Century
by Dr. Doris Jakobsh
In her paper Authority in the Virtual Sangat. Sikhism, Ritual and Identity in the Twenty-First Century, Doris Jakobsh analyses the change of authority based on her research on Sikhs on the Internet. She stresses the Web as a ‘third place’ of communication among the Sikhs as well as the phenomenon of new authorities online. However, this does not imply the replacement of the traditional seats of authority, the Akal Takht, SGPC, or gurdwara managements, but one can recognize a significant shift away from these traditional sites of authority toward the ‘new authorities’, the intermediaries of cyberspace. Her analysis shows that this aspect of the Sikh experience brings with it the most profound challenges and, most importantly, a need to bridge the post-modern individual, i.e. ‘Sikh tradition’ intertwined and legitimated by the metanarrative, and the proliferation of new authorities who have become intermediaries of Sikhism online by virtue of their expertise within the digital domain.