First Sikh Feminist Conference in U.S. this November

The Sikh Feminist Research Institute (SAFAR) is bringing its Our Journeys Conference series to the United States: on Sat...

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The Sikh Feminist Research Institute (SAFAR) is bringing its Our Journeys Conference series to the United States: on Saturday November 8 2014 Our Journeys 2014: To Know Is Not Enough, will be held at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. This conference is about the intersection of activism and academics, action and knowledge.

SAFAR asserts that to simply know is not enough and endeavor to go beyond the acknowledgement of anniversaries and current textbook facts. This conference aims to breathe in new possibilities with the potential to combine the wisdom of the past and possibilities for the future.

"November 2014 marks 30 years since the 1984 atrocities waged against Sikhs in India and is the month of the birth of Guru Nanak, who challenged the status quo and deeply rooted patriarchic values of the times; sowing seeds of Sikh feminism as we know it today. Holding the conference in this month of this year allows us to highlight the relationship and often disconnect between knowledge and its application," said SAFAR's Acting ED, Kirpa Kaur.

The Keynote panelists are Dr. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, Crawford Family Professor, Dept. of Religious Studies, Colby College; Dr. Inderpal Grewal, Chair, Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Yale University; Palbinder Kaur Shergill, Queen's Counsel, Canada.

The Our Journeys Conference series is the interdisciplinary conference developed by SAFAR. While there are several conferences which take place around the world with a focus on Sikh studies, this conference series is the only one of its kind with a focus on Sikh feminism, an emerging field of inquiry and discourse. Recognizing the emancipatory nature of Sikhi, SAFAR defines the Sikh feminist initiative as that which uncovers and understands what causes and sustains oppression in all its forms and strives to create social equity through individual and collective efforts.

SAFAR was born in 2010 when a group of Sikh women scholars, community organisers, academics, activists, educators, and independent researchers, initially mostly based in Toronto, Canada, came together. Today, a registered charity in Canada, SAFAR has held two international conferences. Inaugural Our Journeys Conference 2011 was held at the University of Toronto, in partnership with the Centre for Women's Studies in Education (CWSE), and in collaboration with Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). The 2012 conference was held at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, in partnership with UBCs Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice. Between the two conferences, there were over 500 attendees and 50 presenters including numerous renowned scholars as well as young emerging scholars and activists from across North America and Great Britain.

Our Journeys 2014 is seeking interdisciplinary and original papers from academics, educators, students, activists, community-organizers, independent researchers, and emerging scholars. The Call for Abstracts identifies three themes for the conference, while welcoming other diverse topics:

  • 1. Constructing Sikh Feminism: What Do We Know?
  • 2. Unheard Voices: What Don't We Know?
  • 3. Praxis: Knowledge Into Action.

This panel invites 750 word abstracts to [email protected] by June 1. SAFAR is offering limited traveling bursaries to selected presenters.

SAFAR supports scholarship through both academic and community-based outreach. In addition to the academic Our Journeys Conference series, SAFAR has founded an annual women-of-color based mentorship conference for young women in secondary schools (Sharing Our Journeys); is creating a Sikh feminist virtual online community space, SAFARgettes, and resource repository; and runs the Kaurs Talk Politics groups, a safe public forum for women to navigate, share and explore their politics.

Snippets from SAFAR Conference: Our Journeys 2012, University of British Columbia


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