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Sikh Studies Unit

Call for Proposals

The Sikh Studies Unit invites individual paper proposals and welcomes pre-arranged panel proposals for a total of three 90-minute sessions. Papers will be selected based on their quality and relevance to the following themes:


Kirat Karna: Honest Labor 

Tied to the theme of AAR ’23 on ‘Labor’, this panel explores the concept of "Kirat Karna" from a broad and comprehensive perspective. We invite scholars and activists to discuss the Sikh notion of labor and how Gur-Sikh ethics and lifestyle shape the work of Sikh communities in South Asia as well as in the diaspora, inspiring alternative models to rethinking economic, social, and even academic practices. Among suggested topics:

  • the labor and challenges of first diasporic generations 
  • Contemporary issues around the exploitation of labor
  • Sikh labor in academia and the issues faced (funding, universities, institutions)
  • Applied ethnography, and the impact of scholarship on community
  • The labor of collaboration and community engagement
  • The labor of protest - workers’ rights and the Kissan Morcha


Co-sponsored panel with Popular Culture Unit  

We invite papers investigating the creation, consumption, and dissemination of popular culture in Sikh communities around the globe.


Book Discussion: Authors' Roundtable on The Sikh World (Routledge 2023) 

In this session we will hear from the editors and some authors of a new Routledge volume The Sikh World that explores the living experiences of the global Sikh community (Panth) which continues to evolve in dynamic and diverse ways throughout India and the diaspora. In this volume, 40 international scholars from multiple disciplines cover the following topical areas:  (1) The religious Sikh World  (2) Global Sikh Communities and Geopolitical World   (3) Articulating Sikh Ethics  (4) Activism in the Sikh World  (5) Exegetical and Literary Worlds  (6) Music and Visual Art  (7) Citizenship, Sovereignty and the Nation State  (8) Diversity and its Challenges to the Sikh World  (9) Sikhs and Media: Cinema, TV, Internet and  (10) Educational Initiatives   


Harnessing Our Scholarly Privilege and Power for Public Good: Reproductive Justice and Religion—Contact: Shana Sippy ( and Michal Raucher (

With particular awareness of the AAR's presence in Texas (or wherever we may be), this call for proposals seeks to respond directly to the realities of a post-Dobbs America. We hope to bring together scholars who work in a range of regions and on different religious traditions in order to share their knowledge and comparative perspectives that will deepen our understanding of the issues surrounding reproductive justice. In the planning phase, we seek to gather together scholars and activists who wish to think through and prepare some type of public program on the issue of Reproductive Justice for the annual meeting. We anticipate this session will be jointly sponsored by a number of different units and, depending on the response, may involve multiple sessions or additional programming. 

We understand people have different concerns and questions they hope to address around these issues. During pre-conference planning, we hope to facilitate virtual conversations about the following topics among others: 

  • The location of the AAR/SBL meeting in Texas and practical responses
  • Addressing safety, health, and security concerns of AAR/SBL participants
  • Pedagogies for teaching about reproductive justice and abortion, along with strategies for supporting students in cases where they are in contexts where they are unable to access abortion resources
  • The possibility of some sort of public programming or political action (fundraising for clinics, protests?)
  • Facilitating opportunities for scholars of religion to learn from activists who are working on the ground, particularly those working in states with restrictive laws
  • Possibly securing a grant to support these conversations and exchanges in a more sustained way

Statement of Purpose

This Unit provides a forum for highlighting the most recent and innovative scholarship in the area of Sikh studies. Our work draws from a broad range of methodological and theoretical approaches — history, postcolonial theory, performance theory, popular culture, philosophy, literary criticism, gender studies, etc. — by both established scholars as well as those new to the field. Seeking a balance between critical theory and substantive content, we seek to call into question key critical terms, challenge established frames of reference, and offer innovative and alternative ways in which Sikhs and Sikhism can be understood and studied in the academy.


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members