Can “Asians” in Africa be political subjects, or only economic “middle-man” minorities? How do East  African Sikhs contend with nativist political violence and insecurity, past and present? This talk explores the constitution of the diasporic East African Sikh subject in relation to the 1972 expulsion of the Asian (Indian) racial minority in Uganda. In the context of formal decolonization, nativist sentiments, and informal practices of citizenship-making and community reconstruction after the expulsion, what dispositions and practices characterize the political subjectivity and 
agency of East African Sikh returnees and long-term residents of Uganda? The talk examines the effects of the regulatory character of liberal secular analysis in East Africa and the construction of colonial racialized “religious community” in both scholarship and in lived practice in urban Uganda. In doing so, it challenges the secular nature of postcolonial African and South Asian diaspora studies scholarship; explores the relationships among race, insecurity, religious 
tradition and political agency; and reflects on the labor of working at the margins of area studies-based scholarship. Finally, the talk frames East African Sikhs within a growing comparative literature on “precarious diasporas” in Sikh Studies scholarship.

 

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