media release

Conference to honour sociologist’s legacy

November 21, 2011

Chinmoy Banerjee, Hari Sharma Foundation, 604.421.6752,
Habiba Zaman, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies,
Scott McLean, SFU Vancouver, 778.782.5151,

Simon Fraser University and the Hari Sharma Foundation will host the Globalization and Migrant Labour Conference, November 25-27, 2011, at SFU’s Vancouver campus.

The conference, which will have an emphasis on South Asia, is the first major event for the foundation, established by Sharma’s estate. Sharma lost his fight with cancer at the age of 75 in March 2010.

Sharma was a professor of sociology at SFU from 1968 until his retirement in 1999. His research included Marxism, social change, peasantry, and South Asia, among other fields. He was also a social activist, founding the Indian People’s Association in North America (IPANA) in 1975 and the Komagata Maru Historical Society in 1989 to commemorate the event’s 75th anniversary.

Sharma’s activism against dictatorship in India and his defence of political prisoners led to the revocation of his passport by the Indira Gandhi government in 1976.

Sharma was also a founding member of the Georgia Straight Collective, which helped establish the weekly Georgia Straight.

The three-day event includes presentations on Sex worker-led initiatives for rights and justicePakistani Migrant Workers and Post-9/11 Islamophobia, and Where Ethnicity and Class Intersect: The Political Economy of Farm Working in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

“Hari, from the beginning, was a champion of oppressed people, people who had been denied their basic democratic rights,” says Chinmoy Banerjee, president of the Hari Sharma Foundation. “This conference was created with that legacy in mind. Migrant workers are people being compelled to leave their homes because there is no work, they arrive in a new country, contribute to the economy, but are not protected by the government in any way. We are bringing together academics and [non-governmental organizations], people who are very well informed, to have them discuss the rights of these migrant workers.”


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