Stories of Surviving through Hardship in Elder Sikh Punjabi Women

Prof Doc Thesis

Nagra, S. 2022. Stories of Surviving through Hardship in Elder Sikh Punjabi Women. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsNagra, S.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Hardship and adversity are a part of life for all. However, dominant Western psychological discourses about mental health, illness and recovery can de-contextualise the social, political and spiritual nature of hardship, suffering and liberation, subjugating narratives that do not fit within this framework. Sikh Punjabi people have many stories of survival and liberation from collective historical and continuing hardships. Elder women are often positioned in Sikh Punjabi communities as storytellers and community activists, sharing knowledge and working towards collective liberation, but are rarely included in psychological research, particularly if they do not speak English. Storytelling is a naturalistic method of making sense of the world, yet narrative methods are also rarely used in psychological research. This means that psychological professionals are limited to rigid frameworks for understanding emotional suffering and healing, that are not shared by all. This ethno-poetic narrative analysis therefore explored how elder Sikh Punjabi women in the UK storied and made sense of surviving through hardship, and the liberatory potential in their narratives and narration. Participants appeared to story hardships in social, spiritual and political contexts, and survival through moving narratives of resistance, conscious Oneness, constructivism, and through the act of storytelling. Furthermore, narratives of collective liberation and social change were interdependent and weaved into personal narratives of survival. The relevance and implications of these findings are discussed for clinical psychology theory, practice, training, research and wider policy.

KeywordsClinical psychology; community psychology; liberation psychology; surviving hardship; spiritual psychology; indigenous psychology; decolonising psychology
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online13 Oct 2022
Publication process dates
Submitted22 Feb 2022
Deposited13 Oct 2022
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License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
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