Past events

These events are in addition to our annual event (click to find out more). (Events are listed in reverse chronological order.)

In fall of 2019, there were two special programs at UBC that celebrate Guru Nanak and the Sikh tradition: a concert on October 16, 2019 that has taken place already, and a talk by Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh on November 28, 2019, at the Centre for India and South Asia Research. These events work together to allow for creative and intellectual celebration of the founder of the Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak, and the tradition he initiated.

October 16, 2019

5-6:30 p.m., Green College

“Mehfil: Music, Text and Performance of South Asia”

Singing Nanak: Anahata Sabd (The Unstruck Melody)

In honor of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak

with the ensemble group, Chaar Yaar

Made possible by the Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster and Green College.

In this special concert, in the intimate setting of Green College’s Coach House, Chaar Yaar weave a musical journey through the sacred texts of the first Sikh Master, Guru Nanak Dev, celebrating the cosmic and the worldly, the transient and the timeless, the self and its other. This is their grateful remembrance of the Guru in the 550th year after his birth.

The group Chaar Yaar came into existence about 17 years ago.  As the name Chaar Yaar or “Four Friends” suggests, it comprises 4 musicians : Composer, vocalist, poet Madan Gopal Singh, guitarist and banjo player Deepak Castelino, sarod player Pritam Ghosal and the multiple percussionist Amjad Khan.




November 28, 2019

5-6:30 p.m. CK Choi 120

A Celebration of Guru Nanak

Special talk in honour of the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh tradition, with Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh (Colby College).

We celebrate in this talk Guru Nanak’s 550th birthday by remembering his joyous aesthetics. Could the  dexterous jeweler working away with his anvil and hammer, bellows and fire in the final stanza of the Japji (#38) be the Guru himself?  For sure, it is an amazingly creative performance — simultaneously poetic, musical, artistic. As we recap the motions and emotions of the jeweler working in his smithy, we too get rapt in the Guru’s rapture.

Dr. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh is the Crawford Professor and head of the Department of Religious Studies at Colby College. Her interests focus on Asian Religions, feminist issues, and sacred art and poetry. Dr. Singh has published extensively in the field of Sikh studies. Her books include Of Sacred and Secular Desire: An Anthology of Lyrical Writings from the Punjab (IB Tauris 2012), Sikhism: An Introduction (IB Tauris 2011), Cosmic Symphony (Sahitya Akademy, 2008), Birth of the Khalsa (SUNY 2005), Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent (Cambridge University Press, 1993), Sikhism (Facts on File, translated into Japanese, 1993), and The Name of My Beloved (HarperCollins1995; Penguin 2001). She has authored over 100 articles and chapters, and has delivered more than 250 lectures nationally and internationally.

November 2, 2019

Patterns of Political Violence: 35 Years Since 1984

Films, lectures, discussion

1-6 p.m., refreshments provided with pre-registration, Room 120, C.K. Choi Building, 1855 West Mall, UBC-V

This event featured two filmmakers to screen and discuss their films, as well as one scholar and two journalists whose work addresses the violence in 1984 and other parallel incidents in post-colonial India, for a day-long event. Teenaa Kaur’s film, “1984 – When the Sun Didn’t Rise,” provides a comprehensive account of the Sikh women in Delhi who survived the 1984 massacre, their emotions, and their continuing fight for justice. Nakul Sawhney’s “Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai” or “Muzaffarnagar Remains,” documents the orchestrated “riots” against Muslims in a small city in Uttar Pradesh, an incident that is widely held to have enabled the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP at the national level in 2014. Neha Dixit is an independent journalist who has done ground-breaking work on violence against women and communal violence in India; in 2016 she exposed the trafficking of  adivāsī girls for “hinduization.”  Kaur, Sawhney and Dixit will be joined by local scholar Kamal Arora (Ph.D., UBC), whose dissertation addresses the experience of women in the “women’s colony” that Kaur’s film addresses, and Gurpreet Singh, a local journalist who has written widely on politics and violence in India today — and connections to the Indo Canadian community.

Organized by the Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster, in collaboration with the Centre for India and South Asia Research, the Department of Asian Studies, and with the support of the Office of the Dean of Arts, SANSAD, and the Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation.

November 14, 2019

5-6:30 p.m., Room 120, C.K. Choi Building, 1855 West Mall, UBC-V

Law, Empire and the Institutional Conditions of Sikh Citizenship in British Columbia, 1900-1947

Bonar Buffam (UBC-O)

Until 1947, Sikh and South Asian populations were denied legal citizenship in Canada. Yet, archival records gesture to the complex institutional apparatuses that mediated the political status of Sikh communities in British Columbia before and after they were enfranchised. This talk pursues the specific forms of Sikh citizenship that emerged and transformed through the workings of gurdwaras, lumber mills, and diasporic presses, espcially as they figured in the political landscapes of empire and racial nationalism.

Organized by the Interdisciplinary Histories Research Cluster, in collaboration with the Centre for India and South Asia Research and the Department of Asian Studies and the Law and Society Interdisciplinary Program.

November 21, 2019

5-6:30 p.m., Location TBD

Coming of Age in Macholand: Exploring the Intersections of Media, Masculinity and Transnational Migration in Punjab

Film screening and discussion with the filmmaker

With Harjant Gill

What does it mean to be a successful man in Punjab today? Through on-going ethnographic research and filmmaker, Dr. Harjant Gill explores the various nuances of contemporary Punjabi masculinity. In a state increasingly transformed by globalization, becoming a transnational migrant is synonymous with becoming successful. Through interviews, documentary film, film and media analysis and written scholarship, Dr. Gill explores the transformations in gender relations, development of masculinities, and the role caste, class and transnational mobility plays in shaping everyday life in Punjab.

November 15, 2018 

Punjab’s Drug Epidemic: Women and Children in Its Shadow 

Presentation by: Dr. Nimarta Mann (Punjabi University Patiala) 

Drug abuse is a concern for various reasons, but what often goes unnoticed and unresolved is the agony of the people living in the immediate shadow of drug abusers, which usually means family. Within the family, the maximum impact is generally faced by women. This talk focused on effects of drug abuse on dependent women & children; prevention, treatment, social rehabilitation; and most importantly the need for the integration of women betterment in tackling the drug menace. This event was co-sponsored by the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology and Special Education, and Punjabi University

About the speaker: Dr. Nimarta Mann serves as Assistant Professor at Punjabi University since 2012. Her major field of specialization is Banking & Finance, and minor is E-Business and HRM. Her present field of active research is focussed on psychological and social health of all stakeholders of a business, and is committed to social justice through research and teaching of business ethics. She gave the lecture while serving as Visiting Faculty at Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology and Special Education while pursuing collaborative research with Dr. Robinder Bedi (UBC) pertaining to the scope of Corporate Social Responsibility in addressing the socio-economic vice of drug abuse.

November 1, 2018 

Title: The Dead and Maimed: A Postscript to Jallianwalla Bagh and the Punjab Disturbances

Presentation by: Hardeep Dhillon (Harvard University)

In 1922, the Government of Punjab distributed nearly 22 lakh rupees to Punjabi families of the dead and maimed at Jallianwalla Bagh (Amritsar) and Gujranwala on the insistence of local Indians. The compensation was (perhaps) the first of its type offered to colonial subjects on a larger scale in history. This paper explores not only the historical aspects related to the the debates for compensation — how and why they emerged, but places these compensation efforts into a wider conversation on reparations, colonial violence, justice, and law.

About the speaker: Hardeep Dhillon is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department at Harvard University with a secondary in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS). Her dissertation project, titled Indians on the Move, explores the movement of Punjabi men in the early twentieth century to write a larger history of border and boundary making, mobility, race, law, and dissent.

The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan

27 March 2018, 5 p.m. Room 604 Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall, UBC Point Grey

This talk was sponsored by the Centre for India and South Asia Research, the UBC Sikh Students Association, and the Department of Asian Studies to explore Amardeep Singh’s research on and documentation of historical sites related to the Sikh tradition in Pakistan.

Amardeep Singh is the author of Lost Heritage: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan and The Quest Continues. 


Apna Punjab” [Our Punjab]: Sensorium and Aesthetics of Landscape in Punjabi Cinema 
with Prabhjot Parmar, Department of English, University of the Fraser Valley

1 February 2018, 3:30 – 5 p.m.

Location: UBC Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall, UBC Point Grey Campus

Asian Canadian History and Film at UBC
February 7-8, 2018:
With Filmmaker Ali Kazimi (York University)
Wed. 7 Feb: 6-8 p.m.
“Random Acts of Legacy” (2016): Screening and discussion with the filmmaker
Royal Bank Cinema/UBC Chan Centre
Thurs. 8 Feb 8: 4 p.m.
Documenting Punjabi Canada: Student projects and discussion
St. John’s College Social Lounge at UBC, 2111 Lower Mall
Organized through a partnership between the Departments of Theatre and Film and Asian Studies, and made possible by the Onkarbir Singh Toor Memorial Punjabi Studies Enghancement Fund and the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, with the support of the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program, the Centre for India and South Asia Research, and the Department of Asian Studies.


On Feb 15, there was also a celebration of International Mother Language Day at UBC’s Asian Centre at 5 p.m., which featured Punjabi and a wide range of languages. 

Concert and Conversation with Musical Ensemble Chaar Yaar
12 October 2017 5-6:30 p.m. |   Asian Centre Auditorium 1871 West Mall

The group Chaar Yaar came into existence about nine years ago. As the name suggests, it is comprised of four musicians – namely, the composer, vocalist and poet Madan Gopal Singh; the ace guitarist and banjo player Deepak Castelino; the soulful sarod player Pritam Ghosal and an equally energetic multiple percussionist Amjad Khan.

Lecture: Understanding the Partition of Punjab in the Context of the Partition of India and Bengal by Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed
5 October 2017 5-6:30 p.m. |   C.K. Choi Building Room 120

The journey of the Indian sub-continent to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh has been long and painful. In this lecture on the partition of Punjab- one of the most affected region of the Partition, Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed will demonstrate that the partition of the Punjab, although linked to the overall partition of India, was the result of the polarization between Hindu-Sikhs on the one hand and Muslims on the other because in the wake of religious revivals amongst all three communities.

Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University, Visiting Professor Government College University, Lahore and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. His latest publications include: Pakistan: The Garrison State, Origins, Evolution, Consequences (1947-2011),  2013 and The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed, 2012. The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed  won the Best Non-Fiction Book Prize at the 2013 Karachi Literature Festival and the 2013 UBL-Jang Groups, Best Non-Fiction Book Prize at Lahore and the Best Book on Punjab Award from Punjabi Parchar at the Vaisakhi Mela in Lahore, 2016.

The Ebb and Flow of Everyday Contacts: Forging Literary Communities in Early Modern Panjab by Dr. Purnima Dhavan (University of Washington)

14 September 2017, 4 p.m. |   C.K. Choi Building Room 120

Texts in Punjabi have for much of its history been written in multiple scripts and engaged deeply with myriad textual, aural, and oral communities. The words and letters of literary agents in 17th century Punjab, this lecture argues, actively shaped communities and networks, pointing to the boundaries some wished to enforce, and the boundaries that others transgressed. Join Purnima Dhavan, Associate Professor, UW Seattle, for an interesting information session on the literary communities in early modern Punjab.


November 14th, 2016 / 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
The Centre for India and South Asia Research and the Department of Asian Studies, UBC, with the generous support of Hari Sharma Foundation (Gursharan Singh Memorial Lecture) presented:
Understanding Caste and Class in Contemporary India
A talk by Dr. Anand Teltumbde
Scholar, Author, Civil Rights Activist and Professor of Business Analytics at the Goa Institute of Management, Goa, India
Room 120, Choi Bldg
Dr. Teltumbde argues that caste and class is a duality which has killed a potential revolution in India, dragging India into a socio-political morass. While castes have been the lifeworld of people, as a system their attributes have undergone change due to political and economic transformations in the subcontinent throughout history. The discourse of class that arose with the advent of communism missed this fundamental reality of Indian society and gave rise to this duality. The anti-caste movement articulated by the Dalits, in response, was alienated from this discourse and went on a divergent path. Dr. Teltumbde will present the historical backdrop to the current problem that afflicts the struggles of Dalits and the Left and discuss strategies to overcome it.

 Click here for more information.

Thursday, November 3:

Islam and empire in India: The padshah’s sacred authority and religious pluralism in Mughal times


Corinne LeFèvre

CEIAS (Le Centre d’Études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud)

CNRS-EHESS (L’Ecole Des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales)

Sponsored by the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies/French Consulate French Scholar Speaker Series & the Department of Asian Studies

4 – 5 p.m.
Lecture in UBC Asian Centre Auditorium

5 – 6 p.m.
Reception in lobby

UBC Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall, UBC Point Grey Campus


Wednesday 5 October 2016

The Poetics of Fragility, 

By Nicolás Grandi & Lata Mani

A Transmedia Project 2016

English   Español


5-6:30 p.m.: Film with introduction/discussion

at Green College Coach House

Dinner at Green College, 6:30-7:30 (with purchase of a meal ticket)

After dinner “Fireside chat” with the filmmakers at Green College Piano Lounge

The Poetics of Fragility, Nicolás Grandi & Lata Mani, A Transmedia Project 2016

Film Artist Book Website  —-   English   Español

The Poetics of Fragility (HD 63 minutes) is a kaleidoscopic exploration of the texture, vitality and aesthetics of fragility. It interweaves stories of bodily frailty with optical vignettes of nature’s delicacy to reclaim fragility as intrinsic to existence, not something to be bemoaned or overcome.

Shot in the San Francisco Bay Area in September 2015, the film features internationally renowned scholar-activist Angela Davis, the acclaimed playwright and critic Cherrie MoragaNora Cortiñas, the inspiring founding member of Madres de Plaza de Mayo Linea Fundadora, actor-dancer Greg Manalo, feminist performance artists Thao P. Nguyen and Martha Rynberg, theater scholar Jisha Menon, healer Christopher Miles, creative writer Xochitl M. Perales and the young trombone talent, Jasim Perales.

The Poetics of Fragility is conceived as a “videocontemplation;” a form that Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani have been developing to explore the audiovisual medium as a sensuous tool for social inquiry with a philosophical impulse. The visually arresting and formally plural film unfolds through stories that build on and amplify each other. Moments of emotional intensity alternate with speculative calm, dramatic narration with poetry and critical inquiry into prevailing understandings of fragility.

The artist book – script, process notes, critical essays, artistic responses – extends the film’s poetics and preoccupations in print duration. It is conceived as a pedagogical artifact and aesthetic project in its own right. The website is imagined as a community platform that will host the film, supporting materials and curated creative responses to the film, sonic, graphic, audiovisual, literary.

Link to Trailer for The Poetics of Fragility:

Thursday 6 October 2016


Writing the Present: The Arts, Humanities & the Polyphony of our Wor(l)ds

4 p.m. – Peter Wall Institute, Seminar Room 307, 6331 Crescent Road, Vancouver

Seminar participants are invited to read the short essay by scholar Lata Mani, ”Writing the Present” before this seminar, which explores the contribution the arts and humanities offer in our analytical and personal engagements. (It is available for download at The seminar will also feature a screening of the film De Sidere 7, 38 minutes (by Nicolás Grandi & Lata Mani) and open up to a wider discussion of the film and paper.  See:

Abstract, “Writing the Present” by Lata Mani

Critical discourse in India has largely been shaped by the social sciences. This paper suggests that the exploratory sensibility of the arts and the humanities has a specific and productive contribution to make in the present context in which knowledge is instrumentalized and language deemed transactional. Mani analyses her efforts to experiment with form in rethinking urbanism and the contemporary moment – the video-poem and the multi-genre collection – and makes a case for construing argument as a polyphonic form.

De Sidere 7 Film & Artist Book

Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani, 2014

De Sidere 7 is an experimental work that interweaves performance, dance, poetry, storytelling and text to reflect upon aspects of desire. The film scripts the work of Tsohil Bhatia, Niranjani Iyer, Joshua Muyiwa, Shabari Rao and Deepak Srinivasan into a sensorially rich meditation on desire’s vexed status as at once, animating force, object of suspicion and ground of contention. De Sidere 7 is conceived as a videocontemplation: a formally plural, multilayered composition intended to be experienced as an integrated whole.

Film HD, 2014, 38minutes. English with Spanish subtitles

Artist Book: The script and project reimagined as a tactile experience in print duration within a broader canvas of process notes, critical essays and artistic responses. Bilingual: English & Spanish


Facebook De Sidere 7

Select Reviews

De Sidere 7 is a stunning multi-genre meditation on the meanings of desire in all its valences. Lata Mani and Nicolás Grandi have created a work that is as theoretically rich as it is visually and sonically complex, one that explores the shapes and contours of queer embodiment in the rapidly shifting landscapes of urban India. Gayatri Gopinath, Gender and Sexuality Studies, New York University

What is desire? The scriptural trope of a question that demands not so much an answer as a profound reflection and revelation structures this fluid film, yielding creative responses from people open to desire’s many shades of significance. Against a global culture that saturates us with commodified and packaged “anatomical” desire, this film uses the camera’s vulnerability to its environments and subjects to give us a universe of alternatives through the intimacy of vision and sound, textures of skin, and rhythms of movement… This experimental piece by Nicolás Grandi and Lata Mani uses cinema’s ability to show and tell to deepen our perception and heighten our senses to desire’s unruly heterodoxy. It will be a valuable film in classes across the humanities that want to promote thoughtful dialogue and debate over questions of the self, queer identity, sexuality, desire, spirituality, culture and race. Priya Jaikumar, University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts

De Sidere 7 is a meditative inquiry of desire from the profound place of spirit.  The ever-teacher, Lata Mani, suggests desire is not to be transcended but wholly embraced — as an embodied god, the black and white solitude of almost still photograph, a woman in (re)pose and dance. Grandi’s kaleidoscopic filmic work serves up a visual and aural feast that captures the lingering scent of such knowings within us. Cherrie Moraga, Acclaimed Feminist Poet, Playwright, Essayist


  • University of California, Berkeley, May 1, 2014
  • University of California, Los Angeles, May 2, 2014
  • Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, May 8, 2014
  • X Festival Transterritorial de Cine Underground, Buenos Aires, October 1, 2014
  • New York University, October 3, 2014
  • Brown University, Providence, USA, October 6, 2014
  • Goldsmiths, University of London, October 23, 2014
  • London School of Economics, October 28, 2014
  • National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru, January 10, 2015
  • India International Center, New Delhi, February 16, 2015
  • Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, February 24, 2015
  • Bangalore Queer Film Festival, February 28, 2015
  • 8th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, June 26-30, 2015

Nicolás Grandi is a Buenos Aires based filmmaker, interdisciplinary artist and educator. He has been teaching film theory and practice in universities, schools and community workshops in Argentina and India and has cofounded several collectives working at the intersection of film, poetry, music and sculpture. He currently runs transdisciplinary art labs. His films which include La Pasión Según Ander (2005) and Simon Decouvre (2000) have been screened widely at film festivals around the world.

Lata Mani is a feminist historian, cultural critic, contemplative writer and filmmakerShe has published on a broad range of issues, from feminism and colonialism, to illness, spiritual philosophy and contemporary politics.  She is the author of The Integral Nature of Things: Critical Reflections on the Present (Routledge, 2013), Interleaves: Ruminations on Illness and Spiritual Life (Yoda, 2011), Sacred Secular: Contemplative Cultural Critique, (Routledge, 2009) and Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India (University of California Press, 1989).

Previous film collaborations between Nicolás Grandi and Lata ManiHere-Now (2012); Nocturne I and Nocturne II (2013); De Sidere 7 (2014); The Earth on its Axis, We in our Skin: The Tantra of Embodiment (2015). More at

These events have been made possible by the Department of Asian Studies, Green College, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program, and the Hari Sharma Foundation.


Wednesday September 21

Reluctant Rebellions

An intimate gathering, for a book talk/release

with Shauna Singh Baldwin

in the Asian Centre Room 604


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Click here for information about the event.

Sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies, with the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies Program, and made possible with the support of the Centre for Indo Canadian Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley

Pakistan as an Alternative to the Idea of an Impossible India

Atiya Singh (University of Chicago)  –  15 March 2016  –  12-2 p.m.

UBC Asian Centre, Room 604

According to popular perceptions, Pakistan came into being as a result of a specific vision of the Muslim League shaped in the political milieu of the 1940s. Yet this perspective ignores the role played by the Communist-Left in India not only in articulating the idea of Pakistan, but also providing organizational support to the League essential in fulfilling the dream of Pakistan. This talk re-evaluates the history of the creation of Pakistan from the standpoint of international Marxism and the ideological shifts that had occurred within it. These shifts had a profound effect on the political practice of the Communist-Left in India resulting in the division of the sub-continent.

Sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies and the Centre for India and South Asia Research at The Institute for Asian Research.

Framing Rebellion in India: The Cinema of Sanjay Kak


October 22 and 23, 2015, 2-4:30 p.m.

This event featured the screening of two films by Sanjay Kak, an internationally acclaimed filmmaker from India: Red Ant Dream (2013) and Jashn-e-Azadi/How We Celebrate Freedom (2007). Each film was followed by discussion with the filmmaker. The event was sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies, the Museum of Anthropology, and the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, and made possible by a partnership with the South Asian Film Education Society.


Pandit Rajeev Taranath, Master of the Sarod //A Concert for Nepal

Friday, October 9, 2015 // 6-9PM
Barnett Recital Hall // Music Building, UBC (6361 Memorial Road)
A special evening of Indian classical music to benefit post-earthquake reconstruction in Nepal 
Accompanied by Abhiman Kaushal (Tabla)
With a performance by vocal artist Akhil Jobanputra and Sunny Matharu (Tabla)
All proceeds from ticket sales were donated to CORE INTERNATIONAL ( and the Nepal Heritage Charity Foundation of BC (, who are working with community-based organizations in Nepal to fund post-earthquake reconstruction efforts.

Pt. Rajeev Taranath is a noted disciple of the great sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan, and has received wide acclaim for his virtuosic mastery of this lyrical and moving classical Hindustani stringed instrument, earning India’s highest honour for the performing arts, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. Based in Mysore, India, Pt. Taranath is also a Ford Foundation scholar and has taught in the music faculty of the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. He will be accompanied on tabla by Abhiman Kaushal, a sought-after concert accompanist and solo performer, and presently serving on the faculty at UCLA

An entering first-year undergrad at UBC, Akhil Jobanputra is a brilliant young talent in the Vancouver classical music scene, having trained since the age of three with Pandit Jasraj, perhaps the greatest living practitioner of the khayal tradition of Hindustani classical music. He will be accompanied by the equally talented and prodigious tabla performer Sunny Matharu, based out of Surrey, BC.

For more details on the artists, please visit, and

For further information on the concert, please see or call 604-822-0019.
Proudly presented by the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, in partnership with the Department of Music.


MARCH 2015

Special event in association with SACPAN (South Asia Conference of the Pacific Northwest):
Mind-Dancing with Language
A talk by author Shauna Singh Baldwin
Friday 6 March 2015 
6-8 p.m.
UBC Asian Centre


Sikh Material Culture and Memorial Practice: Objects from the village of Bhai Rupa (Punjab, India)
A part of the Visual and Material Culture Research Seminar Series – Winter 2014
Anne Murphy, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, UBC
with special guest Bhai Buta Singh, caretaker of relics
October 2, Thursday, 3:30 – 4:30 pm at the Museum of Anthropology
Dr. Anne Murphy and Bhai Buta Singh presented and discussed objects that are revered in the Sikh tradition for their connections to the ten Sikh Gurus and other important persons in the tradition. Dr. Murphy presented aspects of her monograph on the representation of the past in the Sikh tradition through textual and material forms, The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition (OUP 2012). Bhai Buta Singh reflected on his own experiences as caretaker of such objects (in Punjabi, translation will be provided).
For more information on the seminar overall, see VisualMaterialCultureSeminar_program
The seminar will continue in 2015-6. Please contact for more information.



On September 24, 2014, the Department of Asian Studies and the Centre for India and South Asia Research at UBC, in cooperation with the Virasat Foundation, proudly presented Parampara: A performance-discussion exploring the master/disciple relationship in Indian Classical Music.

The event featured the renowned artists Ustad Hashmat Ali Khan on Tabla and Pandit Aloke Lahiri on Sarod with their sons and disciples, Akram Khan (tabla) and Abhisek Lahiri (sarod). UBC Auditorium, 1871 West Mall, UBC, 5:30 p.m.

The event was free and open to the public.


MARCH 2013

The Global and the Local: The Gadar Movement and the Quest for Freedom, 1913-2013.

A symposium in honor of the centenary of the founding of the Gadar Party

March 18 &19, 2013, UBC West Point Grey Campus

March 18: The films of Ali Kazimi, In conversation with the filmmaker

 “Continuous Journey” and “Rex vs. Singh”

The Liu Institute for Global Issues

6476 North West Marine Drive

(at the corner of West Mall & Marine Drive)

6:30-9:30 p.m.


March 19, 2013

Panel presentation on the Gadar movement and its local significance

St. John’s College Social Lounge, 2111 Lower Mall

Lunch 12:30-2 p.m.

2-5 p.m. Panel

Hugh Johnston (SFU): The Komagata Maru and the Gadar Party

Johanna Ogden (Independent Historian): Re-remembering Ghadar’s Oregon Roots

Ali Kazimi (York): From Mutiny to Gadar: 1857, the British Indian Army, and the Gadar Party

Naveen Girn (Independent Curator): Echoes of Gadar: Landscapes of the Archive

Gurpeet Singh (Journalist): The Appropriation of Gadar History

Made possible by a generous grant by the Canada India Education Society.

Organized by/with the support of the Department of Asian Studies, the Liu Institute for Global Issues, the Centre for India and South Asia Research, and St. John’s College, and in association with UBC’s new program in Asian Canadian Studies.


On November 14-15, 2012 we held two important events that responded to the violence against the Sikh community in Wisconsin in August 2012, and an additional special opportunity for an intimate conversation with a leading voice in the study of the Sikh tradition. Approximately 25 students and faculty members attended the Green College program, while approximately 50 people attended out November 14 evening event.



“Religion and the Specter of the West: A Conversation with Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair”

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Green College Coach House (6201 Cecil Green Park Road)

Arguing that intellectual movements, such as deconstruction, postsecular theory, and political theology, have different implications for cultures and societies that live with the debilitating effects of past imperialisms, Arvind Mandair unsettles the politics of knowledge construction in which the category of “religion” continues to be central. Through a case study of Sikhism, he launches an extended critique of religion as a cultural universal. At the same time, he presents a portrait of how certain aspects of Sikh tradition were reinvented as “religion” during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Arvind-Pal Mandair is 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); and Teachings of the Sikh Gurus (Routledge, 2005), co-authored and co-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.

Sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies, Law and Society @ UBC, Law at Allard Hall, and Green College



THINK/CREATE   A Teach-in/Creative Arts event

at the University of British Columbia


Rhizome Café

What does it mean to be Canadian? How do inclusion/exclusion work in our society? Why does it matter? What can each of us do to nurture a peaceful world that we can share?

This event brought together scholars, journalists, students, artists and community members to commemorate, reflect, and contextualize the violent attack by a white supremacist on a Sikh Gurdwara(Sikh place of worship) outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 5, 2012 killing 6 Sikh Americans: Paramjit Kaur, Suveg Singh, Satwant Singh, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh & Prakash Singh.

Made possible by the Canada India Education Society.

Co-sponsored by Asian Studies, LawandSociety@UBC, Green College, and Law at Allard Hall.


A night of dialogue, reflection and solidarity

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

6:00 to 8:00 PM

Room 101, Law, Allard Hall (1822 East Mall, UBC)

Special Guest Arvind-pal Singh Mandair (University of Michigan) joined UBC professors & students, journalists, activists, and a film-maker. Guests included Member of Parliament Jinny Sims, journalist Gurpreet Singh, and UBC professors Anne Murphy, Sunera Thobani, and Henry Yu.



A night of music, poetry, visual art and performances

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

6:30 to 9:00 PM (Doors Opened at 6)

Rhizome Café

317 East Broadway (@ Kingsway), Vancouver, BC

This event brought together Artists/Poets/Musicians/Performers to express, to reflect and incite creativity and dialogue in response to the violent attack by a white supremacist on a Sikh Gurdwara(Sikh place of worship) outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 5, 2012 killing 6 Sikh Americans: Paramjit Kaur, Suveg Singh, Satwant Singh, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh & Prakash Singh. Proceeds (by optional donation) from Create will go to the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Made possible by the Canada India Education Society and sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies.


Punjab on Film: Works by Ajay Bhardwaj

(screening and discussion with the filmmaker)

These film screenings brought together a gathering of 25 on November 6 and 40 on November 7 to view a trilogy of films on Punjab, unlike any other films on Punjabi culture and lived expression. Conversation between the audience and the filmmaker followed.

Rabba Hun Kee Kariye?/Thus Departed Our Neighbors

—-on the partition of Punjab, in memory and mourning


Kitte mile ve mahi

—-on Dalit religiosity and the life of Sufism in the Indian Punjab today.

Tuesday 6 November 2012, 6-9 p.m., in Lasserre 102


Milange Babe Ratan De Mele Te/Let’s meet at Baba Ratan’s fair

—-“Punjabiyat” or “Punjabiness” in its multi-forms

Shown here for the first time in Canada

Wednesday 7 November 2012 6-8 p.m., in Lasserre 104

Sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies, the Department of Art History and Visual Art, and the Office of the Vice President Research and International.


October 2012

Students, faculty, and community members shared an Evening of Music with Asian Studies, in association with the SACPAN (South Asian Conference of the Pacific Northwest) and with invited guests from the SAFAR or Sikh Feminist Research Network’s “Our Journeys” conference, taking place the same weekend in Vancouver. More than 100 people gathered for food, music, and conference celebration.

A Sarangi Jugalbandi (Duet) with Dilshad Khan and Sabir Khan, accompanied by Hanif Khan on Tabla

Friday 26 October 2012

Concert held at 6:30 p.m. followed by refreshments

Free of charge and open to the public

Asian Centre Auditorium/1871 West Mall

Brought to you by the Department of Asian Studies and the Centre for India and South Asia Research at UBC, with the generous support of the Virasat Foundation and the Canada India Education Society.

For more information on “Our Journeys,” see


November 2011

Mini-Concert/Demonstration at the UBC Asian Centre Auditorium, sponsored by the Department of Asian Studies and the School of Music, with the generous support of the Virasat Foundation.

Pandit Manu Kumar Seen on sitar and Ustad Akram Khan on tabla.

May 2011

Collaboration with the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration

“Creating/Curating Memory: A symposium on the making and re-creation of memory and community”Museum of Vancouver, May 7, 2011

Discussion of memory and the representation of communities, in association with the Museum of Vancouver exhibition “” Organized with the MOV and the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration (VIBC). Partiipants included: Yoshi Miki, independent curator/educator and currently Visiting Professor at the National Museum of Japanese History, Chiba, Japan; Charlene Mano Shen, Education Director at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle; Susan Rowley, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and a Curator at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC; and Naveen Girn, co-curator of the Museum of Vancouver’s Bhangra.Me exhibition.

May 2010

“Disorienting Bhangra: An Academic Conference on a Transnational Art Form’’                             University of British Columbia/University of the Fraser Valley, May 5-8, 2010

Organized with the VIBC and in association with a related conference at the University of the Fraser Valley: “Diasporizing Punjab” with the support of SSHRC Workshop funding. Public events were held alongside the academic workshop, which brought a range of scholars from around the world to consider Bhangra as a cultural form and the historical and cultural formation of the Diaspora. The panel “Disorienting Bhangra” (held as a part of the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration’s “Celebration of Bhangra”) featured Rajinder Dudrah (University of Manchester) as keynote.

DPDB_Joint_Poster copy

February 2009

Co-sponsored event: “Disorienting Bhangra,” at the International Bhangra Celebration (Vancouver), February 19, 2009. Theme: Caste and gender articulations in Bhangra. Keynote address: Virinder Kalra, University of Manchester.

CONFERENCE: Spring 2008: Modern Punjabi Literature and its Worlds

The first North American academic conference dedicated to modern Punjabi literature, with a special emphasis on its Diasporic forms, was held in the spring of 2008 and brought together writers, students, and scholars through its academic and literary seminar/workshop. The event featured academic papers in English on modern Punjabi literature, held in conjunction with readings in Punjabi and discussions by local poets and students.

The conference was dedicated to Sadhu Binning, who taught Punjabi at UBC for two decades and retired in 2008 from teaching.


(All events took place in the UBC Asian Studies Centre, Room 604 except as noted.)

Saturday April 26

“Punjabi Belongings: National and Disciplinary Affiliations”
Sabina Sawhney, Hofstra University

“Punjabi Literature in Canada”
Sadhu Binning, University of British Columbia

“’From Today to the Beginning’: The Generational Challenges of Progressivism in the Poetry of Gurcharan Rampuri and Sadhu Binning”
Amritjit Singh, Ohio State University

Lunch break.

“Narratives of Dispersal: Stories of Raghbir Dhand”
Rana Nayar, Panjab University

“The Uncomfortable Residue of Dis-location: Fragment, Hybridity, and Panjabi Literature(s) in Canada”
Harjeet Grewal, University of Michigan

“Poetry of Gurumel Sidhu: Patterns and Perspectives”
Atamjit Singh, University of California

Sunday April 27

“The Novel as a Site of Cultural Memory: Gurdial Singh’s PARSA”
Rana Nayar, Panjab University

“The Cultural Politics of Crossing Boundaries”
Anne Murphy, University of British Columbia

Lunch break

“Secular Sikh Writers.”
Amardeep Singh, Lehigh University

Student Panel In the Auditorium
Students of Punjabi at UBC discuss their experiences with Punjabi literature and the value they believe it holds.

Writers’ Panel: In the Auditorium
What is the state of Punjabi literature in Canada? What institutional and other kinds of support are needed to see it thrive?
Speakers: Sukhwant Hundal, Ajmer Rode, Darshan Gill, Baljinder Dhillon

Poetry reading: In the Auditorium
(Schedule of writers to be announced.)