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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:

  1. Orality and Aurality
    Over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Sikh history and practice has been made legible primarily through Sikh texts and a privileged catalogue of ‘established’ canonical scholarship. This epistemological archive is embedded in and refracted through positivist and colonial lenses and is the normative framework through which Sikh history and practice has often been made intelligible. However, in the past two decades or so an ethnographic turn to ‘lived religions’ in Sikh Studies has emerged, and with it a nascent recognition of orality / aurality and its implications for interpreting Sikh history and practice.

This Call invites discussion on the multifaceted modes, applications, and implications of orality/aurality in Sikh contexts. We invite presenters to consider such questions as:

  • What is the place and function of orality/aurality in Sikh tradition?
  • How might orality/aurality be best researched?
  • How might foregrounding orality assist in recovering or revealing Sikh formations?
  • How might orality/aurality unsettle the positivist and colonial episteme of the Sikh archive?
  • How might centering orality/aurality within and regard to Sikh tradition provide us, as Judge and Brar have counseled in “Critique of Archived Life” (2021), an opportunity to pause (rahao / ਰਹਾਉ) and to interrogate the reproduction of [colonial] frames of representability?
  • Do orality/aurality’s lenses allow us to think differently about (Sikh) pedagogy, music, museums and memorialization, archival projects, or public history?
  • What implications might a hermeneutic of orality hold for scholarly practice, for disciplinary orthodoxy, and for the hegemony of the (‘western’) Academy?


  1. Co-sponsored Session with Religion and Ecology Unit
    Based on the 2022 Presidential theme, this co-sponsored session “Sikh Responses to Catastrophe” is a collaboration with the Sikh Studies Unit. This session invites presentations that connect Sikh faith with catastrophe (environmental or otherwise) and are welcome presentations from a broad range of disciplines and methodologies (e.g. theological, sociological, ethnography, historical, philosophical, mental and physical health, etc.)

We invite presenters to consider such questions as:

  • What are central environmental issues of concern for Sikh communities?
  • How are these communities drawing on religious resources for these responses (e.g. to mobilize communities, articulate faithful environmental practices, advocate for policy change, etc.)?
  • How have environmental changes impacted Sikh communities?
  • How have Sikh responses to catastrophe (environmental or otherwise) impacted local ecologies, land-use practices, environmental conditions?
  • How are gender, race, caste, or class implicated in and/or affected by environmental catastrophe(s)?
  • How have Sikh practices or scholarship impacted other religious traditions’ environmental practices or scholarship?
  • What has been the role, influence, or absence of Sikh voices in ecumenical environmental projects?
  • Considering different geopolitical settings, how does the way in which Sikhs in Panjab respond/organize/mobilize around different 'catastrophes' differ from those in the diaspora?


  1. Co-sponsored Session with Yoga in Theory and Practice
    A co-sponsored session between Yoga in Theory and Practice and Sikh Studies invites presentations that explore the relationship between Sikhi and Yoga through a variety of approaches that may engage topics such as colonization, oral and textual knowledge production, lineage transmission, hermeneutics, issues of appropriation and abuse, historical figures and communities related to Sikhi and Yoga. 

Topics may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Contemporary discourse and/or praxis
  • Philosophical inquiry and ethical engagement
  • Addressing nationalist, neo-liberal, new-age and (pre/post)colonial contexts
  • Questions of authority and authenticity as they relate to oral and textual knowledge production, lineage transmission, scriptural translations, and interpretations
    Issues of appropriation and abuse within communities (e.g. Kundalini Yoga/3HO-Sikh Dharma)
  • Analysis of Yogic terminology, metaphors, allusions, critiques found in Sikh teachings (e.g. Siddh Gosht), Sikh musical practice (e.g. shabd jog, naad jog, taal jog, laya jog), and Sikh lifestyle practices (e.g. nam simran, japna, sahaj jog, raj jog, bhakti jog, karma-seva jog, jnana jog)
  • Historical figures and communities related to Sikhi and Yoga (e.g. Udasi, Nirmala, Nihang, 3HO-Kundalini Yoga, Radha Soami, etc.)


  1. Co-sponsored Session with Hindu Philosophy Unit
    The Hindu Philosophy Unit and the Sikh Studies Unit seek papers for a co-sponsored session on Sikh philosophy, with an emphasis on exchanges and influences between Sikh and non-Sikh traditions.

Statement of Purpose


Steering Committee Members



Review Process

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