The Harjit Kaur Sidhu Memorial Program in 2016 was held in two parts on March 16 and 17, 2016.
The main event featured a brief address by Dr. Sunit Singh (University of Chicago), student performances and films, awards for student essay contest winners, and a lifetime achievement award for local Punjabi language writer, Jarnail Singh Sekha. It took take place on Wednesday March 16, 2016 at UBC’s Asian Centre (1871 West Mall), from 7-9 p.m. (preceded by tea and snacks at 6:30).
Schedule for the evening:
6:30 p.m. Reception with light snacks
7-7:30 p.m. Welcome & brief address by Sunit Singh (University of Chicago): “Early Punjabi Migration to British Columbia and the Call of Freedom (Azādī dī Gūnj)”
7:30-8 p.m. Award for lifetime achievement for Jarnail Singh Sekha, BC-based Punjabi Writer; Awards for Student Essay Contest winners
8-9: Student performances and films
This was followed by a scholarly talk by our scholarly guest, Dr. Sunit Singh, on March 17, in Room 604 of the UBC Asian Centre, 1871 West Mall:
Western Clarion: Canadian Socialists and Indian Migration to British Columbia
Sunit Singh (University of Chicago) – 17 March 2016 – 4 p.m.
UBC Asian Centre, Room 604
Around 1905, British Indian subjects, primarily Sikhs from the Punjab, started to venture to the western shores of Canada and the United States in search of employment. At first, Indian labor was absorbed in British Columbia, as was that of the Chinese and Japanese. Yet a forceful backlash after 1907 interrupted their welcome, when a deepening economic crisis fanned anti-Asian and anti-Indian sentiments, and established unions attempted to stem the “Tide of Turbans.” The backlash coincided with the emergence of a new spirit in the electoral life of British Columbia—the socialist party. And though generally ostracized by the unions, a small but influential group of these Indians migrants made inroads with the Canadian Socialist Party, which, after some hesitation, took up their cause. The object of this talk is to unpack how the Canadian left and the Indians themselves understood the exigencies of the labour market and the relationship of race and imperial subjecthood.
About our speaker:
Sunit Singh is presently a Lecturer in the Social Sciences Collegiate Division at the University of Chicago. With a background in Sikh and Punjab studies, he has worked on the decline of the Sikh empire, religious revivalism in colonial-era Punjab, and the on the politically charged debates within the Sikh diaspora that arose with the Sikh insurgency in India in the mid-1980s. His primary intellectual interests lie in analyzing the role of the radical left in South Asia before independence and in the history of Marxism globally. His dissertation examines the transnational conjunctures that shaped the Ghadr Movement and its failed bid to foment a democratic revolution in India in the midst of the First World War.