About the talk:
This talk examines the transnational dimensions of caste and gender in the Punjabi Sikh diaspora of the Pacific Northwest. Sabherwal explores how Jats (a landowning and powerful caste from Punjab, India) have positioned themselves as superior to Chamars (an umbrella caste identity for Punjabi Dalits or low-caste peoples) in the U.S.-Canada borderland region. Though Sikhism is a religion founded on anti-caste origins, the simultaneous repudiation of caste and celebration of Jat pride paradoxically illustrates the deep structures of caste within the religion. The talk unsettles the ways in which Jat men in the diaspora are implicated in a materialistic idea of Jat pride and Jat cool: a social currency intertwined with popular culture and social media, to reveal a particular caste masculinity. Sabherwal builds on Asian American approaches to theorizing caste, youth cultures, and notions of “cool” to ultimately reveal how caste—rather than fixed or natural—is an elastic concept that is contingent upon how it is deployed within Sikh diasporic geographies and temporalities.

About the speaker:
Sasha Sabherwal (she/her) is an interdisciplinary scholar of the South Asian diaspora with research interests in the racialization of religion, transnational feminist studies, and the intersections of caste and race. She is an assistant professor of cultural anthropology and global Asian studies at Northeastern University. Her research explores the reproduction of caste in the Sikh communities of U.S. and Canada. She is at work on a book manuscript entitled Circuits of Faith: Caste, Gender, and Racialized Religion in the Sikh Diaspora of the Transnational Pacific Northwest. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of American Studies at Yale University (2021), and is a proud alumna of UC Irvine, where she received her B.A. in international studies; gender & sexuality studies; and political science (2014).

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