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Fellow Seminar: Collective Fictions of Caste: Unsettling Caste, Gender, and Religion in the Sikh Diaspora of the Transnational Pacific Northwest
February 8 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm
Fellow Seminar with Sasha Sabherwal, postdoctoral fellow.
About the Talk:
Caste, a complex form of social stratification in Hinduism, continues to differentiate members of the Sikh community in the Pacific Northwest diaspora. Despite the anti-caste foundational tenets of Sikhism, many Sikhs hold onto the legacies of caste, especially if they identify as Jat (a powerful caste in Punjab, India and its diaspora) and view Chamars (otherwise known as Dalits, or those belonging to the lowest caste) as subordinate to them. In this talk, Sabherwal explores the transnational dimensions of caste in the Canadian and American Sikh diasporas of the Pacific Northwest through interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with Jats and Dalits across the region. She examines how Jats develop contradictory and shifting narratives in defense of their caste status, and she ultimately argues that while Jats tell stories that deny their complicity in perpetuating caste hierarchies, their maintenance of Jat pride is part of a collective fiction that further heightens caste divisions in the diaspora.