Image credit and copyright: Kamal Arora

Talk: Legacies of Violence: Sikh Women in Delhi’s “Widow Colony” with Dr. Kamal Arora

Wednesday, June 5, 6pm
Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, 149 West Hastings Street

Kamal Arora is a scholar and anthropologist interested in the spaces created by the intersections of religiosity, affect, embodiment, and gendered identities. In dialogue with Nep Sidhu's exhibition Medicine for a Nightmare (they called, we responded), this lecture will examine contemporary affective and gendered religious practice, memory and material among Sikh widows in New Delhi's "Widow Colony." How are religious practices called upon to enforce memories of violence directed towards Sikhs that unfolded in 1984, effectively leading to a community of widows and their families? How does the materiality of the gurdwara — a place of Sikh worship — intersect with the continued trauma and violence experienced by Sikh widows? How do women carve out a public space for community-building in a highly gendered landscape?

Based on ethnographic fieldwork, Dr. Arora argues that violence and memory become embedded not only in the body but in material and temporal landscapes. Within the everyday space of the "Widow Colony," the gurdwara has been re-appropriated away from formal religious practice by the women there, functioning instead as a place that enables the subversive exchange of local knowledges and viewpoints. Reflecting upon the embeddedness of the gendered body, Dr. Arora considers how emotions work to mediate relationships among particular forms of materiality: in the context of the 1984 violence, through the Delhi gang rape, and in proliferating conversations around urban space and gendered violence. 

Dr. Kamal Arora holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of British Columbia. Her research, rooted in a strong feminist lens, focuses on gender, violence, religious practice, and Sikhism. She also holds an MA in Gender and Development. She served as Co-Director of the South Asian Studies Institute at the University of Fraser Valley from 2017 - 2018.

Audio Recording