SASNET affiliate Kristina Myrvold receives research grant

Photo of Kristina Myrvold

Dr. Kristina Myrvold, Visiting Professor at the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University, was awarded a grant by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ).

Dr. Myrvold received funding for her project "Iconic Scriptures in Colonial Punjab: Sikh Religion, Print Culture, and Politics" (project description below). For many years, her research has been focusing on intersections of religion and technology in Punjab, print history of religious Sikh texts, and the production and use of miniature books in Sikh and Islamic traditions. Since 2015 she has worked on a project entitled “Religion in the Trenches” which investigates the production, distribution, and use of religious scriptures and artefacts among Indian soldiers from Punjab who fought for the British Army during World War I.

The Stockholm-based Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ) is an independent foundation with the goal of promoting and supporting research in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Project description:

The project examines the historical processes of making religious scriptures iconic when humans create and ritualize the material form of printed books. This is done by documentation and analyses of Sikh religious scriptures and how they were created, negotiated, and changed in colonial Punjab (1849–1947) when printing technologies were introduced and intersected with commercial, religious, and political interests. From a multidisciplinary perspective that brings together religious studies with book history, material culture, and post-colonial theory, the project is divided into three parts that examine the production, the materiality, and the social and political functions of religious scriptures. The first part provides an overview of religious book production in Punjab from the perspective of local actors, and illustrates how rival ideals of technologies and textual legitimacy were negotiated and created new religious beliefs and practices. The second part starts with scriptures as textual artifacts and analyzes preserved historical books in detail in order to see how their materiality and sacrality changed. The third part discusses the effects of the transition to a mass-producing print culture and how scriptures were attributed functions that could legitimize various claims of authority in a colonial context. The project is based on original research with archival studies and documentation of rich and largely unexplored material in European and Indian archives.