Sikh and Punjabi Studies at UC Santa Cruz, 2015-16 – Annual Report
The following activities were completed under the auspices of the Sikh and Punjabi Studies Program at UCSC. Activities are partly funded by two endowments, and supported by the volunteer efforts of Professor Nirvikar Singh and the UCSC Sikh Student Association. Significant administrative support is provided by the UCSC Division of Humanities and Institute for Humanities Research.
The two endowments are
1. Sarbjit Singh Aurora Chair in Sikh and Punjabi Studies (held by Prof. Nirvikar Singh), effective from 2010. [SSAC]
2. Guru Nanak Heritage Fund, effective from 2012. [GNHF]
For some events in the following list, the above sources of financial and other support are specifically noted. Support and involvement of the UCSC Sikh Student Association is also noted.
On the UCSC Campus
1. Presentation, Waking in Oak Creek, October 2015
Prof. Nirvikar Singh showed the DVD of this title, documenting the local community’s response to the August 2012 killings at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and led a discussion with the UCSC Police Department Fall Quarter Citizens’ Academy, where the audience included students, community members and UCSC police officers.
2. Discussion of Current Events in Punjab, October 2015
At the request of the UCSC Sikh Student Association, Prof. Nirvikar Singh led a discussion with students on current political, religious and social events in the state of Punjab in India.
UCSC Sikh Student Association]
3. Student-Staff Workshop, Leadership for Social Justice: A Sikh American Perspective, November 2015
This one-day workshop provided insights and training for individuals who wish to lead social change efforts. The workshop was conducted by the Sikh Coalition, a community-based organization that works toward the realization of civil and human rights for all people, including Sikh-Americans. It included sessions devoted to lobbying, media, legal remedies, and a case study on effective advocacy. Workshop leaders were Arjun Singh,
Sikh Coalition’s national Director of Law & Policy, and Harjit Kaur, its Community Development Manager for Northern California.
Event Photos: http://ihr.ucsc.edu/event/leadership-for-social-justice-a-sikh-american-perspective/
4. Course: Introduction to the Sikhs, Winter Quarter 2016
Prof. Nirvikar Singh taught this 2-unit course, which he designed, for the fifth time in 2016. He teaches it in addition to his regular course load in Economics, so there is no financial claim on the two endowments for his time. The course introduces the Sikh community, including its origins, history, belief system, and contemporary issues. Other topics include Sikh music, art, literature, and aspects of Sikh society. Particular attention is paid to the Sikh diaspora in the United States and in California, including comparative perspectives with other minority communities. The class is listed under the new UCSC Department of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, which provides administrative support. Students write papers and make oral presentations. The class has a diverse enrollment, and includes a student trip to the San Jose Gurdwara, offering class members and their accompanying friends a first-hand cross-cultural experience. The cost of chartering a bus for the trip is covered from the Aurora Chair income. This year, the class was allowed to increase in size to 43 students, having been kept at about 35 students in previous years.
5. Student-Staff Workshop, Leadership for Social Justice: A Sikh American Perspective (2), February 2016
This workshop provided participants with practical tools for conceptualizing and effecting social change. Modules included: understanding and changing mindsets, community cultural leadership, implementing adaptive change, and supporting citizen-centered rather than client-centered approaches. The workshop leader was Jyotswaroop Kaur, at that time Education Director, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF).
Event Photos: http://ihr.ucsc.edu/event/leadership-for-social-justice-sikh-american-perspectives/
6. Guest Lecture in Introduction to the Sikhs, The Global Sikh Diaspora, by Dr. Shinder Thandi, February 2016
Shinder Thandi is a Visiting Professor in Global & International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He specializes in Sikhs and Sikh Diaspora, Political Economy of Development, and related topics. He is the founder-editor of the Journal of Punjab Studies, in publication since 1994, and one of the founders and later Convenor of the Punjab Research Group, which was established in the UK in 1984.
7. Planning Meeting for Journal of Punjab Studies, February 2016
Prof. Gurinder Singh Mann, former holder of the Kundan Kaur Kapany Chair of Global and Sikh Studies, and emeritus professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, joined Dr. Shinder Thandi and Prof. Nirvikar Singh in discussions for strengthening the visibility and profile of the Journal of Punjab Studies, one of only two academic journals devoted to Sikh and Punjabi Studies. The visitors also met with members of the UCSC Sikh Student Association.
[SSAC and UCSC Sikh Student Association]
8. University Interfaith Council Open Dialogue on Religion, March 2016
Prof. Nirvikar Singh served as a panelist representing Sikhism, along with representatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Paganism.
9. Punjabi Language Teaching, Spring Quarter 2016
Introductory Punjabi language (one quarter of instruction) has been supported since 2012 by the GNHF, with bridge funding from the Dean of Humanities and the SSAC. The class was taught for the fourth time in Spring 2016, and for the first time on the main UCSC campus. Enrollments were very strong, with 27 students taking the class, well above the target of 15 students.
As a result of the strong on-campus enrollment, a second course in Punjabi language, to create a two-quarter sequence, will be added in 2016-17. The course approval forms were prepared by Prof. Nirvikar Singh and have been reviewed and approved with minor modifications by the Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics. Final campus approval is expected in Fall 2016, and the sequence will be offered in Winter and Spring 2017. Savings from previous years’ income are being used to fund the second quarter of
the sequence for two years, after which additional external funding will be sought to make the sequence permanent.
Prof. Nirvikar Singh also made a class visit at the request of the Chair of the Department of Languages and Applied Linguistics, and submitted a written report on the instructor, to fulfill university requirements.
10. Punjabi Language Conversation Practice, Spring Quarter 2016
With funding from the Aurora Chair endowment, the UCSC Sikh Student Association organized weekly conversation practice sessions for students enrolled in the Introductory Punjabi Language class.
[UCSC Sikh Student Association and SSAC]
11. Turban Day, April 2016
This event was the third time that the UCSC Sikh Student Association held a Turban Day at the Quarry Plaza, a central location on campus. The students tied turbans on dozens of students, staff and faculty members, and shared information about the Sikh faith and community with all those who stopped by. The Aurora Chair funds helped purchase the turban cloth for the event.
[UCSC Sikh Student Association and SSAC]
12. Lecture by Prof. Mark Juergensmeyer, Sikhism in the Global Age, April 2016
Mark Juergensmeyer is Kundan Kaur Kapany Chair of Global and Sikh Studies, fellow of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, professor of sociology, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is an expert on religious violence, conflict resolution and South Asian religion and politics, has published more than two hundred articles and twenty books, and has received numerous academic honors.
13. Bhangra (Punjabi Folk Dance) Group, April 2016
UCSC students have organized a Bhangra group for several years, which performs at the annual Indian Cultural Show. Aurora Chair funds were used to provide partial support for costume purchases for the Bhangra group.
14. Giddha (Women’s Punjabi Folk Dance) Group, April 2016
UCSC women students organized a Giddha dance group for a second year, to complement the long-standing Bhangra group. The Giddha group performed at the annual Indian Cultural Show. Aurora Chair funds were used to provide partial support for costume purchases for the Giddha group.
15. Waking in Oak Creek (2), May 2016
Prof. Nirvikar Singh again showed the DVD of this title, documenting the local community’s response to the August 2012 killings at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and led a discussion with the UCSC Police Department Spring Quarter Citizens’ Academy, where the audience included students, community members and UCSC police officers.
16. Sikh Student Association Bhangra Bash, May 2016
The UCSC SSA held a social event for all UCSC students. Aurora Chair funds were used to provide partial support for event expenses.
[UCSC Sikh Student Association and SSAC]
17. Contribution to Division of Social Sciences Summer Reading List, June 2016
The division asked students, faculty, staff, and alumni from the social sciences to share a book about an inspiring person or a provocative idea, a social movement or an influential leader. Prof. Nirvikar Singh suggested The Book of Nanak, by Navtej Singh Sarna, as a way of informing the campus community about the beliefs and culture of Sikh students at UCSC.
18. Undergraduate Research on California’s Punjabi-Mexican community, beginning Spring 2016
Inspired by Prof. Nirvikar Singh’s discussion of earlier research on this topic (now several decades old), two undergraduate students have begun a project involving fresh ethnographic research on the current situation of this almost-vanished community and its lessons for contemporary California. The Aurora Chair endowment is providing funds for expenses involved in the field work.
19. Sikh Student Association Seva (Service) Days (All Year)
The UCSC Sikh Student Association organized monthly visits to the San Jose Gurdwara to perform seva, with activities such as helping in the langar (community kitchen).
Off-Campus Activities and Outreach
20. Lecture, Sikh beliefs and values and cultural traditions, Land of Medicine Buddha, Soquel, August 2015
Prof. Nirvikar Singh delivered this lecture as part of the Land of Medicine Buddha Visiting Scholar Series for Summer 2015, and was attended by a cross-section of local community members.
21. Lecture, Sikhs in America, Paras Youth Center, Fresno, October 2015
Prof. Nirvikar Singh gave a talk to several dozen Sikh community members, covering the history, socio-economic background, and current challenges of Sikhs in America, as well as background on the global Sikh diaspora.
22. Lecture, Sikhs in America, San Jose State University, October 2015
Prof. Nirvikar Singh gave a talk to several dozen members of the SJSU Sikh Student Association, covering the history, socio-economic background, entrepreneurial experiences, and current challenges of Sikhs in America, as well as background on the global Sikh diaspora.
23. Sikhs in the California Schools Curriculum, November 2015
At the request of the Sikh Coalition, Prof. Nirvikar Singh provided a second letter of support for an effort to ensure that Sikhs, as one of the oldest immigrant communities in California, have their identity recognized and preserved in the California schools curriculum. After he wrote the letter, it was also signed by two other California Sikh academics (Prof. Pashaura Singh of UCR and Prof. Rahuldeep Singh Gill of California Lutheran). The letter was sent to the California Instructional Quality Commission.
24. Guest Lecture, Sikh Civil and Human Rights Advocacy in the USA, UC Santa Barbara, November 2015
Prof. Nirvikar Singh gave a guest lecture on this topic to several dozen students in Dr. Shinder Thandi’s class on the global Sikh diaspora, at UCSB. The talk included a detailed analysis of the work of three US-based civil rights organizations that focus on Sikh issues: SALDEF, Sikh Coalition and United Sikhs, as well as putting this work in the broader context of immigration and civil rights in the US.
25. Keynote Address, Sikhs in America, Ceres Community Center, January 2016
Prof. Nirvikar Singh delivered this lecture to a large audience of law enforcement officers (including Sheriffs of four counties), attorneys, local politicians, and Sikh community members. The other keynote address was given by the Consul General of India. The event is held annually to educate the local community about Sikhs and the history of their presence in the US.
26. Opening Lecture, The State of Sikh Studies in Western Academia, Sikholars Conference, Stanford, February 2016
Prof. Nirvikar Singh delivered a revised and updated version of a lecture first given at Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada, in 2015. The conference is an annual event organized by Jakara, a Sikh nonprofit organization, and attracts about 100 attendees. The lecture sought to make the case that although Sikh and Punjabi Studies has several endowed chairs in North American universities, the field remains precarious in certain ways, both with respect to its position in academia, and with respect to the Sikh community, its object of study. The talk provided a basis for this claim of precariousness, discussing broader asymmetries in the production and reproduction of knowledge in those parts of Western academia that encompass or influence Sikh and Punjabi Studies, including South Asian studies, religious studies, and aspects of postmodernism, as well as underlying ideologies such as Hindutva. It analyzed these larger issues through five
illustrative but important areas of inquiry: the origins of Sikhism, the later evolution of the tradition, diversity in belief and practice, the Sikh diaspora, and the impact of colonialism on Sikh beliefs. Aurora Chair funds were used to provide partial support for the conference, which showcases young Sikh scholars and their work.
27. Discussion of Book, Agrarian Distress and Farmer Suicides in North India, by L. Singh, K.S. Bhangoo and R. Sharma, Chandigarh, India, March 2016
Prof. Nirvikar Singh discussed the book at a formal book launch, sponsored by Punjabi University, Patiala, with which UCSC has an Agreement of Cooperation. His remarks were featured in the main daily newspaper of the region, and drew the attention of state-level economic policymakers concerned about these issues.
28. Research Article, Punjab’s Agricultural Innovation Challenge, October 2015
In March 2015, Prof. Nirvikar Singh attended and served as session chair at an international conference on innovation systems at Punjabi University, Patiala. Based on that session, he wrote a paper with the above title, which is expected to appear in the conference volume, currently under submission. The abstract is as follows, “Fifty years ago, Punjab embarked on its famous Green Revolution, leading the rest of India in that innovation, and becoming the country’s breadbasket. Now its economy and society are struggling by relative, and sometimes even absolute, measures. Using the original Green Revolution as a benchmark, this paper discusses five areas of challenge and promise for a new round of agricultural innovation in Punjab. These are: complexity of the agricultural economy, complementary inputs such as infrastructure, switching costs (including risks), balancing frontier innovation and adaptation, and the relative roles of the public and private sectors.”
29. Book, Economic Transformation of a Developing Economy: The Experience of Indian Punjab, New Delhi: Springer, edited by Lakhwinder Singh and Nirvikar Singh, January 2016
In 2013, after a conference on “Re-Building Punjab: Political Economy, Society and Values,” organized by Dr. Inderjit Kaur and Prof. Nirvikar Singh at UCSC, which included Prof. Lakhwinder Singh of Punjabi University, Patiala, as a speaker, an Agreement of Cooperation was signed between the two universities. In March 2014, a joint conference on Punjab’s economy was held at Punjabi University, hosted by Prof.
Lakhwinder Singh. Subsequently, Prof. Lakhwinder Singh and Prof. Nirvikar Singh edited a book based on the conference papers, which was published in January 2016. The book has a chapter by Prof. Nirvikar Singh, titled “Breaking the Mould: Thoughts on Punjab’s Future Economic Development.”
The book has a foreword by Dr. Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist of the World Bank. He has written, “…given the iconic status of the Punjab economy, such an understanding can shed light on development in general from which we can learn and benefit wherever we are located in the world. This is what makes the book, Economic Transformation of a Developing Economy: The Experience of Indian Punjab, an important one.” In March, 2016, this book was also featured at the book launch event in Chandigarh (item 26) and attracted the attention of policymakers as well.
30. Research Article, The State of Sikh Studies in Western Academia, February 2016
This article was revised from the previous draft delivered at Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada, and presented at the Sikholars conference at Stanford. It is currently being revised further.
31. Research Article, Cosmopolitanism, Tradition and Identity: Framing the Sikh Experience in California, May 2016
This article was written in 2016 and has been submitted to the Sikh Research Journal, a new peer-reviewed online journal. It is currently under review. The abstract is as follows, “This paper analyzes academic accounts of the Sikh experience in California. In addition to providing an overview of various studies of the Sikh community, this paper points out implicit assumptions in these studies, as well as gaps in the literature. Issues discussed include Sikh religious identity, cultural practices and socioeconomic status, as well as the evolving national and global context in which the California Sikh community has grown.”
32. Research Article, Portraits of the Sikh Gurus, June 2016
This article was originally written in the summer of 2015, and substantially revised based on peer reviews. It will appear in 2017 in The Kapany Collection of Sikh Art, to be published by The Smithsonian and the Sikh Foundation, edited by Dr. Paul Taylor of the Smithsonian Institute and Sonia Dhami from the Sikh Foundation.
33. Article, Punjab’s Economy: What Went Wrong?, India Today, July 2016
This is a brief article, based on Prof. Nirvikar Singh’s earlier analysis, written for a special issue of this prominent Indian news magazine on “The Tragedy of Punjab.”
34. Book, The Other One Percent: Indians in America, New York: Oxford University Press, by Sanjoy Chakravorty, Devesh Kapur and Nirvikar Singh, forthcoming, October 2016
This book includes work on Sikh Americans, who have been a significant part of the Indian American community for over a century.