Another Sikholarly Success in 2012

This past weekend, CSU East Bays Ethnic Studies Department and Sikh Studies Chair along with the Jakara Movement held its third annual Sikholars Conference. Along with the 11 graduate students from all over North America, nearly 100 community members came together to share and engage in their research projects.

Opening on Saturday, Dr. Jaideep Singh welcomed the participants and discussed the burgeoning field of Sikh Diasporic studies that is finally beginning to bear fruit. The first panel showcased the projects of Bandana Kaur, a Yale graduate, on issues of ecofeminism, biodiversity, and social effects of the Green Revolution and Guneeta Kaur Bhalla on the challenges, development, and prospects of the 1947 Partition Archive. Both projects bring together social histories and the voices of non-elite subalterns to the fore.

The second panel, titled the Identities of Law, explored Sikh-Americans in a legal context. Jasmine Singh discussed the racialization of Sikhs in the United States, while Kiran Preet Dhillon reflected on the ways that Title VII, instead of promoting accommodation to religion in the workplace, have served to limit and demean. She called for a rigorous opening of the conversation with groups that fight for freedom from discrimination in the workplace, including SALDEF and the Sikh Coalition. The panel discussant was conference host, Dr. Jaideep Singh.

The last panel of the day involved explorations in musicology. Neelamjit Dhillon, a student at California Institute of the Arts, showcased his music talents and the convergence of technology and music, adding visual imagery to the auditory experience. Harpreet Neelam, from the University of Toronto, mesmorized the audience with her vocal talents and her explanations of the partaal through the shabad Mohan Neend na Aavaey Haaveh. View her amazing rendition (along with Neelamjit Singh on the thabla; pagh salute: RimmyKay) below and continue reading beneath the fold.

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The first day concluded with a viewing of Harjant Gill (Sikholars, Class of 2010)s documentary Roots of Love.

Day 2 opened with a panel exploring places of anand and resistance in the Sikh wedding. Loveleen Kaur of Wilfrid Laurier University and the Sikh Activist Network discussed the implications of the Hindu Marriage Act upon the Sikh qaum. H. Bindy Kaur Kang of the University of British Columbia analyzed her wedding through auto-ethnography to view the interstices of race and gender in Canada today. The discussion was ably led by Lakhpreet Kaur Gill, who has completed her masters in sociology from Stanford University.

The final panel of the conference explored femininities and masculinities in the diaspora. Ashveer Singh of the University of Chicago discussed the politics of producing nostalgia in the North American Bhangra Circuit. Gurpreet Sehra of the University of Manitoba gave a powerfully raw and honest look at the politics of sexual identities and bodies through her artwork. Kirpa Kaur shared the voices of Amritdhari women she interviewed as part of her Hair Speaks: Sikh Women Voicing Spiritual, Sexual, and Identity Body Politic.

This year also saw the establishment of the Ajeet Singh Memorial Prize in Sikh Scholarship. Named in memory of Ajeet Singh Matharu, two prized are awarded annually to graduate students pursuing Sikh studies that best reflect the high intellectual and scholarly ideas exemplified by the life and work of Ajeet Singh Matharu (1983-2010). The prize was established by the Matharu Family in 2011, to be administered by the Jakara Movement. The 2012 recipients of the prize are Kirpa Kaur and Jasmine Singh.

The conference was an overwhelming success, highlighting the young talents and intellect of some of our communitys finest. Even more amazing was the participation and excitement from the community, especially those traveling as wide and far as the participants. Community members from New York, New Jersey, Arizona, and even Vancouver traveled to be part of the weekends festivities. This speaks to the development of a community and its thirst to create spaces for intellectual engagement and discussion. A wonderful weekend indeed!

A quick note – papers will be open to public viewing for 2 weeks at the Sikholars website – – if you loved the event or to want to make sure that we can continue with it, please support it by contributing to it here.

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26 Responses to “Another Sikholarly Success in 2012”

  1. This was a fantastic conference and I feel fortunate and enriched to have attended. The presenters and the audience really challenged my thinking on many topics.

  2. Harbans Lal says:

    excellent contributions, like to see more of them.

  3. […] blog The Langar Hall provides a recap of the conference, and the papers that were presented this year are available for […]

  4. Blighty Singh says:

    'Sikhs' are in Australia, New Zealand, the 18th district of Paris, rural Parma, Singapore, Malaysia, various dialect areas of London, India and even what translates in olde english as 'the land of shoddy goods' : Birmingham. Maybe 1% of them are in America. If you're holding a very regional, limited, localized event that 99.99% of Sikhs have neither heard of nor have any chance in hell of participating in…..for gods sake give it a local name. It ain't 'SikhScholars'. Its 'The Handfull of Local Sikhs that Know how to Read and Write Patting Themselves on the Back and Wallowing in their Own Self Importance' Festival. Tell it like it is.

  5. […] would like to follow up on Jodha’srecap of thethird annual Sikholar’s conference that took place this past weekend at California State University, East Bay (in Hayward, […]

  6. […] would like to follow up on Jodha’srecap of thethird annual Sikholar’s conference that took place this past weekend at California State University, East Bay (in Hayward, […]

  7. Myself and at least one other Sikh peer from the UK put forward submissions for papers. However, I could not afford to travel to the US for this event and I think he was in similar circumstances. The organsiers rightly dd not press us for inclusion of the completed papers regardless. I will be doing the same next year but hopefully will be able to afford the travel.

  8. […] and now offer the same for the second day.  As before, I will refer to the blog post on The Langar Hall that provided a recap of the conference and also to the papers that were presented this year made […]

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