Speaker Bios

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Purnima Dhavan, University of Washington

Purnima Dhavan

Purnima Dhavan

Purnima Dhavan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the author of, When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Martial Tradition, 1699-1799 published by Oxford University Press, New York, as well as a number of essays and journal articles exploring Sikh martial and literary traditions. Her new book project, Brave New Worlds? Literary Publics and Social Association focuses on the linkages between literary activities, social mobility, and civic engagement during the Mughal period in South Asia.

Louis E. Fenech, University of Northern Iowa

Louis Fenech

Louis Fenech

Louis Fenech is a Professor in the History Department at the University of Northern Iowa. He completed his PhD at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on south Asia and Sikh Studies.




Rahuldeep Singh Gill, California Lutheran University

Rahuldeep Singh Gill

Rahuldeep Singh Gill

Rahuldeep Singh Gill is interested in the relationship between texts, subtexts, and contexts, as well as the nexus between the social and the religious. In particular, he examines the evolution of Sikh institutions over five hundred years of the tradition’s history, as well as the interaction of Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus. His research provides the first western study of the Sikh tradition’s most important interpretive writer, Bhai Gurdas Bhalla (d. 1636).



Michael Hawley, Mount Royal University

Michael Hawley

Michael Hawley

Michael Hawley teaches religious studies at Mount Royal University in Calgary. He completed his PhD at the University of Calgary under the supervision of Professor Ronald Neufeldt. Michael is co-Chair of the Sikh Studies Consultation at the American Academy of Religion (AAR), and is a book reviews editor for the journal Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory.

Michael is currently working on several projects. He is co-editing a festshrift in honour of Professors Ronald Neufeldt and Harold Coward. He is also editing a collection of essays on Sikh Diaspora to be published by Brill. He is authoring two essay length entries for Spinger’s forthcoming Encyclopaedia of Religion, one on “Sikh “Migration” and the other on Sikh “Transnationalism”. His present research focuses on the Sikhs in Calgary. He is in the early stages of a major research project detailing the history of Calgary’s Sikh community. He is also currently working on a project documenting the kundalini yoga and the 3HO community in Calgary.

Doris Jakobsh, University of Waterloo

Doris Jakobsh

Doris Jakobsh

Doris R. Jakobsh, who holds degrees from the University of Waterloo, Harvard University, and the University of British Columbia, is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Director of Women’s Studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Dr. Jakobsh recently returned from taking a group of students on a three-month trip to India for a course entitled ‘The Living Traditions of India’. She has published numerous articles and is the author of Relocating Gender in Sikh History: Transformation, Meaning and Identity, Oxford University Press (2003, 2005), the editor of Women in Sikhism: History, Texts and Experience, Oxford University Press (2010) and has more recently published Sikhism, University of Hawai’i Press (2011). She is currently involved in editing a two-volume World Religions textbook project with a particular focus on religion in Canada to be published in 2012 by Nelson Publishers. Professor Jakobsh is a Steering Committee Member of the Sikh Consultation of the American Academy of Religion. She also serves on a number of local and international editorial boards and advisory committees associated with the study of religion and Sikh studies.

Inderjit N. Kaur, University of California, Santa Cruz

Inderjit Kaur

Inderjit Kaur

Inderjit N. Kaur is a musicologist specializing in the musicological aspects of Sikh shabad kirtan (sacred music). Her work over the last several years has focused on understanding and recovering the operative meaning of the musical information in the primary Sikh scripture, Guru Granth. She has founded the Sikh Music Heritage Institute, a non-profit organization committed to research in, education on and preservation of heritage shabad kirtan. Her work on the preservation of heritage shabad kirtan includes the production of a DVD of historical compositions by renowned 11th generation rāgi (Sikh musician) late Bhai Avtar Singh. At his request, she translated the text of his four-volume book of historical compositions. She has presented her research at conferences and seminars at Oxford University, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, UC Santa Cruz, and Hofstra University, and also at several gurdwarey and community forums. She is trained in Indian classical music, and grew up singing shabad kirtan in rāg. She has published and forthcoming papers in journals such as Journal of Punjab Studies and Sikh Formations, and magazines such as Nishaan.  Inderjit has a PhD in economics from UC Berkeley and has taught economics for several years. She is currently pursuing a PhD in ethnomusicology at UC Berkeley, and continuing her work on Sikh musicology as Research Associate in the Music Department at UC Santa Cruz.

Bruce La Brack, University of the Pacific

Bruce La Brack

Bruce La Brack

Bruce is Professor Emeritus, School of International Studies, University of the Pacific, and has held an American Institute of Indian Studies (New Delhi) Language Fellowship and was awarded a Fulbright grant for study in India. Dr. La Brack has conducted over thirty five years of research on the impacts of the South Asian Diaspora on North America. He has published extensively on overseas South Asians, particularly the Sikhs in North America, and is the author of the book, The Sikhs of Northern California, an ethnographic study which is being reissued by the American Migration Press, New York.

Gurinder Singh Mann, University of California, Santa Barbara

Gurinder Singh Mann

Gurinder Singh Mann

Professor Mann’s research focuses on the Sikh tradition range from the early emergence of Sikh institutions to the global challenges facing the contemporary Sikhs, both in the Punjab and other parts of the world, with a keen interest in the evolution of Sikh institutions and the challenges facing the contemporary Sikh community both in the Punjab and the Diaspora. His teaching interests include the nirguna bhakti literature; the nature of interaction between Christians, Hindus, Jains, Muslims, and Sikhs living in the Punjab; and Punjabi language and culture.

Nicola Mooney, University of the Fraser Valley

Nicola Mooney

Nicola Mooney

Dr. Nicola Mooney is author of Rural Nostalgias and Transnational Dreams: Identity and Modernity among Jat Sikhs (University of Toronto Press, 2011). Her work broadly concerns ethnicity, urbanization, migration, and what it is to be modern among Jat Sikhs, and considers the impacts of the transitions from rural to urban and diasporic life on caste, class, gender, religion, memory, identity, and popular culture. She teaches Anthropology in the department of Social, Cultural and Media Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley, where she is Senior Associate of the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies.

Christopher Shackle, University of London

Christopher Shackle

Christopher Shackle

Christopher Shackle graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Persian with Turkish. He retired in 2007 from the academic staff of SOAS, University of London, where he was for many years a member of the Departments of South Asia and of the Study of Religions, and is now Professor Emeritus of Modern Languages of South Asia. Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1990, he was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan in 2005 for his work on Pakistani languages and literatures and the Medal of the Royal Asiatic Society in 2006 for his contribution to Asian studies. He has published widely on linguistic and literary topics in Punjabi and Urdu. His long-time interests in translation found recent expression in The Season of Love, Bitter Almonds and Delayed Rains (2006), a selection in English of the Urdu short stories of the Punjabi writer Mazhar ul Islam, and in his extensive contributions to the anthology Nationalism in the Vernacular: Hindi, Urdu, and the Literature of Indian Freedom (ed. Shobna Nijhawan, 2010). In the field of religious studies he has particular interests in Sikhism and in Sufism in South Asia, and his most recent books include Teachings of the Sikh Gurus (with Arvind Mandair, 2005) and Attar and the Persian Sufi Tradition (with Leonard Lewisohn, 2006). He is currently working on a long-planned monograph on Punjabi Sufi poetry, along with a separate volume of translations of the complete work of the great eighteenth century mystic Bullhe Shah.

Jaideep Singh, California State University, East Bay

Jaideep Singh

Jaideep Singh

Jaideep Singh is an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at California State University, East Bay, and holder of the Dr. Ranjit Singh Sabharwal Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies. He holds a B.A. in History, with a focus on the comparative histories of peoples of color in the Americas, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. He is also co-founder of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a mediawatch and civil rights advocacy organization.

Nikky G.K. Singh, Colby College

Nikky G.K. Singh

Nikky G.K. Singh

Nikky Singh is the Crawford Family Professor at Colby College. Her interests focus on poetics and feminist issues. She has published extensively in the field of Sikhism, including The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), The Name of My Beloved: Verses of the Sikh Gurus (HarperCollins and Penguin), and Metaphysics and Physics of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sterling). Her book on Sikhism was translated into Japanese. She has lectured widely in North America, England, France, India, and Singapore, and her views have been aired on television and radio in America, Canada, and India.

Nirvikar Singh, University of California, Santa Cruz

Nirvikar Singh

Nirvikar Singh

Nirvikar Singh’s research and published articles in Sikh and Punjabi Studies have included work on healthcare systems in Punjab, the Punjab economy, comparison of past conflicts in Punjab and Kashmir, Sikh literature as an agent of social change in the early 20th century, and analysis of the fundamental doctrines of Sikhism in historical context. Professor Singh is also one of the leading scholars on India’s political economy, and has researched and published extensively on topics such as federalism, governance, and macroeconomic policies. He is beginning a new research project on Indian American entrepreneurs, which will be extended to look specifically at the experience of Sikh Americans as entrepreneurs.

Pashaura Singh, University of California, Riverside

Pashaura Singh

Pashaura Singh

Pashaura Singh combines a command of classical and colloquial Punjabi and Hindi languages (including a working knowledge of Sanskrit) and a sound knowledge of traditional Sikh learning, manuscripts in archaic forms of Gurmukhi script and Indian religious traditions, with a mastery of contemporary issues in textual studies, canonicity, hermeneutics, literary theory, and history of religions. His work on the Adi Granth (sacred Sikh scripture) and early Sikh history is widely noted. His most recent monograph, Life and Work of Guru Arjan, was on the “Best Sellers List” in India.

Shinder Thandi, Coventry University

Shinder Thandi

Shinder Thandi

Professor Shinder S. Thandi is currently a Visiting Professor at UCSB and was previously Chair of Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting at Coventry University, UK. He has teaching interests in the areas of development economics, international business and global political economy. He has published widely on Indian and Punjabi migration and settlement in the UK and on different dimensions of Indian and Punjabi diaspora-homeland relations. He is founder editor of the Journal of Punjab Studies and has co-edited two books: Punjabi Identity in a Global Context [ed. with Pritam Singh, OUP, 1999) and People on the Move: Punjabi Colonial and Post Colonial Migration [edited with Ian Talbot, OUP, 2004). He is co-author (with Michael Fisher and Shompa Lahiri) A South Asian History of Britain: Four Centuries of Peoples from the Indian Sub-Continent, (Greenwood Press, May 2007. He is currently working on a book on The Sikh Diaspora: From Struggles to Celebration.

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