“The Typical Ghadar Outlook”: Udham Singh, Diaspora Radicalism, and Punjabi Anticolonialism in Britain (1938-1947)





Udham Singh, Indian Workers' Association, anticolonialism, labor militancy, Britain, Punjab


Punjabis in interwar Britain, who had migrated for economic opportunity but had been politicized during successive upheavals at home, admired Ghadar’s radical solidarities with nationalist and anticolonial movements. This article focuses on peripatetic Punjabi radicals, often working as pedlars and sailors, to enhance the current understanding of the vibrant relationship between the Ghadar Party and Punjabis in Britain. This article contextualizes Udham Singh’s martyrdom by examining the uses to which his name and image were put in radical publications. Furthermore, the Indian Workers’ Association, formed in the midst of the Second World War, was integral to articulating a Ghadarite anticolonialism in Britain, which was animated by the trial and memorialization of Udham Singh. Thus, this article argues that labor migration and the global transmission of Ghadar Party publications was integral to the Ghadar movement’s influence on the struggle against imperialism in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s.

Author Biography

Silas Webb, Syracuse University

Doctoral candidate, Department of History, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs


Archival Sources

The National Archives, Kew

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Disturbances: Indian Workers Association: 'inflammatory' tone of Azad Hind (Quit India), a bi-lingual monthly in Punjabi and Urdu.1945-1951. HO 45/25460.

Criminal: Singh, Udham Convicted at Central Criminal Court (CCC) on 5 June 1940 for murder and sentenced to death. HO 144/21445.

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Grant of passport facilities to Indians of limited means to come to UK as peddlers etc. 12 Nov 1929-16 Oct 1939. IOR/L/PJ/7/1007, file 719.

The Ghadr Party in USA and Canada. Jan 1936-Jun 1944. IOR/L/PJ/12/284, file 1392/25.

Kirti, communist newspaper of Ghadr Party. Jun 1929-Dec 1939. IOR/L/PJ/12/300

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IPI reports on Indians in North and South America: the Ghadr Party. Feb 1940-Nov 1948. IOR/L/PJ/12/286, file 1392(A)/25.

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Special Issue: Ghadar Movement