Sikhi(sm), Literature and Film
Bios of Participants
Dr. Gunjeet Aurora
Gunjeet Aurora is an Assistant Professor in English at the School of Liberal Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi. She did her PhD from the Centre for English Studies, JNU on the literature based and emerging out of the Indian Emergency of 1975-77. Her areas of interest are Drama, Performance Studies, Contemporary Indian history and politics and Popular Culture.
Satwinder Kaur Bains
Satwinder Bains is a Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley and the Director of the Centre for Indo Canadian Studies. Her research interests and expertise include Sikh Cultural Studies, migration and settlement, diaspora family studies and cross-cultural education. Satwinder has twenty six years of work experience in community development and has worked extensively with women, youth and families from the South Asian community. She is a consummate community advocate and volunteer and has assisted numerous community organizations develop and grow.
Dr. Balbinder Singh Bhogal
Balbinder Bhogal is an associate professor in the department of Religion and the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies. He has previously, held positions at University of Derby, England, James Madison University, Virginia and York University, Toronto. His primary research interests are South Asian religions and cultures specializing in the Sikh tradition, particularly the Guru Granth Sahib, its philosophy and exegesis. Secondary research interests include: hermeneutic theory and its radicalization through deconstruction; Indian Philosophy and its relation to Continental Philosophy, Mysticism, Translation and Postcolonial Studies, and the Religion-Secular and Animal-Human divides. Recent Publications: “The Animal Sublime: Rethinking the Sikh Mystical Body” (Journal of the American Academy of Religion 2012); “Decolonizations: Cleaving Gestures that Refuse the Alien Call for Identity Politics” (Religions of South Asia 2011); “The Hermeneutics of Sikh Music (Rag) and Word (Shabad)”, (Sikh Formations, 2011); “Radicalizing Hermes: Philosophical Messengers and Poetic Reticence in Sikh Textuality” (SOPHIA, 2011); “Monopolizing Violence before and after 1984: Governmental Law and the People’s Passion” (Sikh Formations: 2011).
Dr. Francesca Cassio
Francesca Cassio is the holder of the Sardarni Harbans Kaur Chair in Sikh Musicology and Associate Professor of Music at Hofstra University, New York. Prior to joining the Hofstra faculty, she served as a visiting professor in musicology at Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan, India; lecturer of ethnomusicology at the University of Trento, Italy; lecturer of anthropology of music at the Conservatory of Adria, Italy; and lecturer of ethnomusicology and Indian music at the Vicenza Conservatory of Music, Italy. Since 1991, Dr. Cassio has conducted extensive research in India, where she lived and has been professionally trained in classical vocal music and in the Sikh repertoire, according to the Guru-Shishya Parampara (“teacher-student”) tradition. Dr. Cassio is disciple of legendary masters of the 20th century: Padma Bhushan Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Khan Dagar, Padma Bhushan Vidushi. Girija Devi, and the Hazoori Ragi Bhai Gurcharan Singh. Dr. Cassio also received extensive training in vocal and percussion tradition by Bhai Baldeep Singh, the 13th generation exponent of Gurbānī kirtanyas. Author a book on dhrupad (medieval genre of Indian classical music), Dr. Cassio, in more than twenty years of research, has worked extensively and written about Indian music (Gurbānī sangīt, dhrupad, Rabindra sangīt, thumrī, semi-classical, folk and devotional repertoires), Gender Studies, intercultural education, ethnomusicology and music pedagogy.
Dr. Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Geetanjali Chanda is a senior lecturer in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Yale University. She is also affiliated with the South Asian Studies Program and the Departments of Ethnicity, Race and Migration and American Studies. She has taught courses on autobiographies, family, cultural identity, popular culture, international feminisms and postcolonial India since 2001. Previously she taught at Hong Kong University and Gettysburg College. Professor Chanda received her PhD in English Literature from Hong Kong University, where she also taught courses in the Programme in American Studies. She received her Master's degree from George Washington University. She has spoken at international fora and published widely on notions of home, family, and gender in Indian English literature in US and international publications. Her research interests include popular culture and feminist and transcultural pedagogy, masculinities and religion. Professor Chanda has been published in many professional journals, magazines, and newspapers, as well as having written a book: Indian Women in the House of Fiction (Zuban Books, Delhi, 2008), which is in its second edition. Her most recent journal articles include: “Sikh Masculinity, Religion, and Diaspora in Shauna Singh Baldwin’s English Lessons and Other Stories (co-authored with Staci Ford) and Men and Masculinities (Month 2009 1-21, #2009 Sage Publications). The Urban Apartment as “Womanspace”: Negotiation Class and Gender in Indian English Novels (South Asian Review, Special Issue, 2009) and “Home Abroad: Shauna Singh Baldwin’s Feminine Journey” (in Literature of The Indian Diaspora, Delhi, 2011).
Dr. Harjant Singh Gill
Harjant Gill is an assistant professor of anthropology at Towson University, Maryland. He received his PhD from American University in Washington DC. His research examines the intersections of masculinity, modernity and migration in South Asia. Gill is also an award-winning filmmaker and has made several films that have screened at film festivals worldwide. His latest documentary, Roots of Love explores the changing significance of hair and turban among Sikhs and is being screened on BBC World News, PBS and Doordarshan (Indian National TV). His website is www.TilotamaProductions.com
Harjeet Singh Grewal
Harjeet Grewal is a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan. Harjeet continues to write on aspects of Sikhi as they pertain to Diasporic communities in North America, especially the intellectual form they may take. However, at the moment, he is working on a comparative project analyzing Sikh hagiographical texts from the Early Modern Period in order to better understand the early Sikh intellectual and discursive project. Harjeet's interests include interrogating the limits of Western discursive forms of religiosity as they apply to non-dual Oriental tradition as well as exploring the possibilities that arise from an intellectual engagement with the various interpretive traditions that Sikhs have inherited.
Dr. Raj Kumar Hans
Raj Kumar Hans was born in a Punjabi village of Amritsar/Gurdaspur districts and graduated from Guru Nanak Dev University in 1977. An award of a UGC research fellowship for doctoral studies moved him to the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in Gujarat. He had been teaching history there since 1983. He shifted his field of research from economic history of western India to broader social and cultural history. Taking a comparative view of the regional cultural formations of the Indic civilization, he has been studying Gujarat and Punjab. For last few years he has focused attention on the study of Sikhism and Punjabi dalit literature. Some of his articles and papers on Gujarat and Punjab history have been published in journals and edited books. He was awarded a Fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (2009-11) to write his monograph on ‘history of Punjabi dalit literature’ which is now being finalised for the press. He has travelled abroad on Fellowships and to participate in conferences. Currently he is working on history of dalits in the Sikh religion.
Najnin did her B.A and M.A in English Literature from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. In a bid to expand her horizons she enrolled into the MPhil program in Social Sciences at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. Her stint at the CSSSC allowed her the opportunity to go beyond traditional literary studies and explore the terrains of several other disciplines and how they can be made to engage in fruitful dialogues with one another. Her MPhil dissertation was an ethnographic study of the Sikh community in Kolkata and was awarded the Jayoti Gupta Memorial Prize for the Best MPhil Dissertation at the CSSSC. Ms. Islam will be joining the University of Pennsylvania this Fall as a graduate student in the Department of English where she hopes to specialize in South Asian diasporic literature.
Punnu Jaitla is a doctoral student in linguistic anthropology at the University of Michigan. His dissertation involves looking at comparative ideologies at the intersection of history, translation, interpretation, and language.
Dr. Arvind Mandair
Arvind Mandair is an Associate Professor and S.B.S.C. Chair of Sikh Studies at the University of Michigan. His recent publications include: Religion and the Specter of the West: Sikhism, India, Postcoloniality and the Politics of Translation(Columbia University Press, 2009); Secularism and Religion-Making (co-edited, Oxford University Press, 2011). Teachings of the Sikh Gurus(Routledge, 2005) co-authored and translated with Christopher Shackle; He is a founding editor of the journal Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture and Theory and is Assistant Editor of the journal Culture and Religion, both published by Routledge.
Bijay Mehta is currently pursuing his PhD from the Department of Ancient Indian History and Culture, University of Calcutta. His research is broadly focussed on the concept of heritage and its socio-political implications through an interpretation of key Indian monuments. He holds a Masters degree in Arts and Aesthetics from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU. His areas of specialisation are the Visual Arts, Indian Culture, Popular Culture Studies and Music.
Dr. Parvinder Kaur Metha
Parvinder Mehta’s research and teaching interests include Anglophone, Postcolonial Literature and Film, Multi-Ethnic American Literature as well as Comparative Literature. She earned her PhD in English from Wayne State University. Her publications include articles in Journal of South Asian Diaspora, Journal of South Asian Popular Culture, South Asian Review and Sikh Formations. She is currently completing her book manuscript on Asian American women writers, titled, Mimic Women: Cultural Camouflage and Global Modernity. She also enjoys writing poetry in English, mostly about Sikhs, and hopes to publish a book of poems in the near future.
Dr. Anne Murphy
Anne Murphy is Assistant Professor and Chair of Punjabi Language, Literature, and Sikh Studies at the University of British Columbia. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Department of Religion and her Master’s degree in Asian Languages and Literature from the University of Washington. She previously taught in the Religious Studies and Historical Studies Concentrations at The New School in New York City. Her research interests focus on the historical formation of religious communities in Punjab and northern South Asia, with particular but not exclusive attention to the Sikh tradition. Her monograph, The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition, will be published by Oxford University Press in September 2012. The book explores the construction of Sikh memory and historical consciousness around material representations and religious sites from the eighteenth century to the present. Other research interests concern the formations of modern Punjabi literature, and particularly the articulation of the secular within it, and the historical formations of social service or “seva” as an expression of ethical life within Sikh tradition. She conducted research on the latter topic as a Senior Fellow with the American Institute of Indian Studies in 2009-2010, and received a grant for the project from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in 2010. Dr. Murphy has recently instituted a new oral history program in her third-year Punjabi class, and teaches classes on the history of Sikh and other religious traditions in South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora, Punjabi language and literature, and South Asian cultural history. She is from New York City.
Dr. Michael Nijhawan
Michael Nijhawan is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at York University. His research interests include transnational religion, immigration and identity formation as well as violence and suffering and its translatability in cultural practices. He is the author of Dhadi Darbar. Religion, Violence, and the Performance of Sikh History (2006), a number of refereed and non refereed articles as well as book chapters, in both English and German. He is the co-editor of Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols, and the Articulation of Identities in South Asia(2009). He is also co-producer of the documentary “Musafer-Sikhi is Travelling” (2008).
Natasha Raheja is a 2nd year PhD Student of Sociocultural Anthropology at New York University. Her research interests are in the areas of performance, cultural production, belonging, migrant labor, and border identities. She also co-directs the Sindhi Voices Project, an oral history and participatory media initiative that documents the partition narratives of Sindhi elders.
Dr. Anjali Gera Roy
Anjali Roy is a Professor in the Department of Humanities of Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. She has published several essays in literary, film and cultural studies. Her publications include a co-edited volume(with Nandi Bhatia) Partitioned Lives: Narratives of Home, Displacement and Resettlement (Delhi: Pearson Longman 2008) and a monograph Bhangra Moves: From Ludhiana to London and Beyond (Aldersgate: Ashgate 2010). She has recently co-edited with Chua Beng Huat an anthology The Travels of Indian Cinema: From Bombay to LA (Delhi: OUP 2012) and
edited Bollywood’s Soft Power: Across Five Continents (Delhi: Sage 2012)
Dr. Amritjit Singh
Amritjit Singh is the Langston Hughes Professor of English and African American Studies at Ohio University in Athens, OH. Amrit Singh’s research and teaching interests include African American Studies, Modernism (esp. the Harlem Renaissance), 20th Century American and Postcolonial Fiction, Richard Wright, South Asian cultures and literatures, and Migration Studies. Currently he is working on a documentary history of South Asians in North America. He is committed to exploring inter-ethnic paradigms, especially in relation to the parallels between the patterns of internal migrations within the Americas and immigration to the U.S and Canada from Europe and Asia. He is a series editor of MELA (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas) from Rutgers University Press. Recent Books: Co-editor (with Bruce G. Johnson), Interviews with Edward W. Said. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004 (Public Intellectuals Series); Co-editor (with Daniel M. Scott III), The Collected Writings of Wallace Thurman: A Harlem Renaissance Reader. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003; Co-editor (with Peter Schmidt), Postcolonial Theory and the United States: Race, Ethnicity and Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2000; Co-editor (with Maryemma Graham), Conversations with Ralph Ellison. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1995; (Author, Afterword) The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1995; (Author, Afterword) Conversations with Ishmael Reed. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1995.
Dr. Nikhil Pal Singh
Nikhil Pal Singh is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History and Director of Graduate Studies in Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. A historian of race, empire, and culture in the 20th-century United States, Singh is the author of Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2004), winner of the Liberty Legacy Foundation Award from the Organization of American Historians, the Norris and Carol Hundley Prize from the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association and the Washington State book award from the Seattle Public Library. Singh has published extensively on topics ranging from US liberalism to the role of race in US foreign policy. The University of California Press recently published his edited collection of the writings of legendary civil rights activist Jack O’Dell, Climin’ Jacob’s Ladder; The Black Freedom Movement Writing of Jack O’Dell. His new book Exceptional Empire: Race and War in US Globalism is in-progress and forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Singh is member of the National Council and Executive Committee of the American Studies Association (ASA), and co-editor of the American Crossroads book series at the University of California Press.
Simran Jeet Singh
Simranjeet Sing is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, focusing on devotional traditions and literatures of early modern South Asia. He earned an M.A. from the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures of Columbia University (2009), an M.T.S. in South Asian Religious Traditions from Harvard University (2008), and a B.A. in English Literature and Religious Studies from Trinity University (2006). His dissertation research focuses on hagiographical writings produced in early modern South Asia and pays particular attention to the earliest, most authoritative, and most widely circulated source on the life and times of Guru Nanak (d. 1539 CE) - the Puratan Janamsakhi. His project aims to situate this particular text within its larger literary context, explore its role in facilitating the development of distinctive literary cultures, provide a narrative for the life of this text, and consider the diverse ways in which it continues to be re-interpreted and re-imagined through a variety of media in the modern period. While his research interests fall primarily within the domains of Punjab & Sikh Studies, Simran's language and academic training have prepared him to teach religion more broadly. He has served as a Teaching Assistant for courses on Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism, and Simran has recently been selected as a finalist for Columbia University's Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.
Safina Uberoi is an Indian-Australian filmmaker. Her best-known work is My Mother India (SBS), an autobiographical documentary about her multicultural family which was one of the first to examine the impact of the anti-Sikh pogroms of 1984 on Indian society. My Mother India won 11 major awards including the Best Documentary from the Film Critics Circle of Australia. Safina wrote and directed a film on British-Asian writer Meera Syal as part of the high profile BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? The film followed Meera as she explored her family’s roots in Punjab and discovered a subaltern history of the Indian independence movement. The series won an Indie award and was nominated for a BAFTA and a Grierson Award. Safina Uberoi’s most recent documentary A Good Man (ABC) revolves around the complex relationship between an Australian farmer and his quadriplegic wife. A Good Man won 8 international awards and was voted in the top ten films at IDFA, the world largest documentary festival in Amsterdam. Safina has directed other award-winning prime-time documentaries for television including 1800 India (PBS/ Wide Angle), Unstoppable (ESPN/ABC) and The Brides of Khan (SBS).