“Sikh Journey in America” Topics & Speakers

The conference, which occurred on September 22, 2012,  featured an exhibit room with artifacts from the Sikh-American culture, posters of early Sikh pioneers, of the Ghadar Party and Indian independence movement, and of Sikhs in World Wars I and II. (Courtesy of Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany, Sikh Foundation and Kesar Singh Dhillon Ghadar Memorial Trust.)

Read “The Sikh Journey in America conference” for full details about the conference.

“Sikh Journey in America” Topics (click title to view abstract)

[Click here to download a PDF copy of the academic paper abstracts from the conference.]

Dalip Singh Saund: From Stockton Gurdwara to the US Congress” by Inder Singh

Reevaluating Origin and Inspiration of Sikh Ghadar: 1907-1918” by Dr. Jasbir Singh Mann (PDF)

“Fresh Look at Lala Har Dayal, Veer Savarkar and Ram Chandra Bhardwaj”

The Life and Times of Pakher Singh Gill” by Dr. Nirmal Singh Mann

The 1907 Bellingham Riot and Anti-Asian Hostilities in the Pacific Northwest” by Paul Englesberg (PDF)

Social and Political Lives of Early Sikh Settlers in California, 1897-1946” by Dr. Bruce La Brack

Komagata Maru Episode and the Ghadar Party” by Dr. Hugh Johnston

Punjabi-Mexicans: Why Did This Community Develop?” by Dr. Karen Leonard (PDF)

Pacific Coast Khalsa Diwan Society, 1912-2012” by Dr. Amrik Singh (PDF)

Revisioning of Sikh Consciousness and Formation of Ghadar Lehar in North America” by Dr. Jaspal Singh (PDF)

Perspectives on the Ghadar Movement” by Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon (PDF)

Native and Foreign Elites and Institutions vs Sikh Ghadar Movement” by Dr. Tejwant Singh Gill (PDF)

Ghadar Media and Literature” by Gurmel S. Sidhu (PDF)

Life and Times of Sant Teja Singh, 1906-1912” by Sukhmander Singh (PDF)

Ghadarites’ Dreams in Babbar Akali Lehar and the Reality of Independence Movement” by Dr. Gurcharan Singh Aulakh (PDF)

War Against King: Sikh Ghadar: 1914-1915” by Prof. Malwinder Jit Singh Wariach (PDF)

It Takes a Massacre: The Sikhs are Really Americans Now” by Dr. Harold Gould

“Sikh Journey in America” Speakers:

1. Dr. Bruce La Brack is Professor Emeritus at the School of International Studies, University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. He is a cultural anthropologist who has conducted over 35 years of research on the impact of the South Asian Diaspora outside Punjab, primarily in North America, but also in East Africa, England, and India. He has held an American Institute of Indian Studies (New Delhi) Language Fellowship and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in India. Dr. La Brack has published extensively on the South Asian diaspora, particularly Sikhs & Punjabis in the U.S. and Canada. He authored the ethnographic study, The Sikhs of Northern California: 1904-1975, which is being revised and updated for republication by American Migration Series Press, New York.

2. Dr. Hugh Johnston is a professor emeritus in history at Simon Fraser University, where he taught full-time from 1968 and continues to teach in the Seniors Program. He is author of several books, including The Voyage of the Komagata Maru: The Sikh Challenge to Canada’s Colour Bar (1989), The Four Quarters of the Night: the Life Story of an Emigrant Sikh (1995), Radical Campus: Making Simon Fraser University (2005), and Jewels of the Qila: The Remarkable Story of an Indo-Canadian Family (2011). He is currently working on a biography of Kapoor Singh, a Sikh pioneer, mill owner and philanthropist.

3. Dr. Harold Gould is, since 1991, a visiting scholar in the Center for South Asian Studies at University of Virginia, Charlottesville. From 1968 – 1991, he served as a Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at the University of Illinois, where he specialized in study of India and South Asia. Author of hundreds of articles, Dr. Gould has also written six books, including The Hindu Caste System Volumes I – III (1988, 1988, and 1991), Grass-Roots Politics in India: A Century of Political Evolution in Faizabad District (1994), Sikhs, Swamis, Students and Spies: The India Lobby in the United States, 1900-1946 (2006), and The South Asia Story: The First Sixty Years of U.S. Relations with India and Pakistan (2010).

4. Dr. Karen Isaksen Leonard is an anthropologist and historian at University of California, Irvine. Her doctoral work in 1969 was through University of Wisconsin on the history of India. Dr. Leonard has used her extensive academic career to write about the social history and anthropology of India, Punjabi-Mexican Americans, South Asian Americans, and Muslim-Americans. Her most recent book, Locating Home: India’s Hyderabadis Abroad (2008), studies the construction of identity in the diaspora by emigrants from Hyderabad, India, who settle in Pakistan, Britain, Canada, the U.S., Australia, and the Middle-Eastern Gulf states. Dr. Leonard’s previous publications include Muslims in the United States: The State of Research (2003), an extended bibliographic essay relating the situation of Muslim-Americans in the changing religious, social and political landscape of the U.S., Social History of an Indian Caste: the Kayasths of Hyderabad (1994), Making Ethnic Choices: California’s Punjabi Mexican Americans (1994), and The South Asian Americans (The New Americans) (1997).

5. Dr. Paul Englesberg is professor of education at Walden University, specializing in adult and higher education, and educational research. Previously he was on the education faculty at Western Washington University where he initiated the Asian American Curriculum and Research Project. He has also taught in several universities in Taiwan and China. He has conducted research on the history of Asian Americans in the Pacific northwest of the U.S., focusing especially on the 1907 riots and expulsion of the majority-Sikh population from Bellingham and Everett in Washington State.

6. Dr. Jaspal Singh is a Ph.D. on Ernest Hemingway who taught English and Linguistics in various colleges of Punjab and at the Regional Institute of English, Chandigarh. He served as principal of Ambedkar Institute, Mohali for 14 years before joining well-known Punjabi daily Desh Sewak as editor. For 21 years, he also served as an English literary columnist for The Tribune (Chandigarh). He is a specialist in the field of semiotics and modern Western critical thought. Dr. Singh remains a member of top decision making bodies at Panjab University, Chandigarh such as the Academic Council, Senate and the Syndicate. Author of scores of papers on literary semiotics, modern Western critical thought, and the socio-political situation of India, he has also published two books on Hemingway and a theoretical book, Semioisis and Semiotics: Explorations in the Theory of Signs (1982).

7. Dr. Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon is an expert on Sikh social, political, and religious history and is a Ph.D. recipient from and former professor of history at Punjab University. He has published scores of articles in reputable national and international journals, as well as academic pieces in newspapers including The Tribune (Chandigarh), The Indian Express (New Delhi), The Illustrated Weekly Of India, The Washington Times, The Globe and Mail, and The Punjabi Tribune. He is author of several books, including Researches In Sikh Religion and History (1989), Insights Into Sikh Religion and History (1991), India Commits Suicide (1992), Truth About Punjab: SGPC White Paper (1996), and Perspectives On Sikh Religion and History (1996).

8. Dr. Tejwant Singh Gill is formerly a Professor of English at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar for over two decades. After retirement, he was granted a Fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla, where where he crafted Ernst Trumpp: His Orientalist Critique and Translation of the Adi Granth. He has also worked as an editor at Alochana, a Punjabi quarterly and from 2001 – 2003, he was Chief Editor of Punjabi daily Desh Sewak. Presently, Dr. Gill is Punjabi editor of Muse India, a highly-reputed internet journal. He is also a prominent translator of literary texts from Punjabi to English and English to Punjabi, most notably the translation of One Hundred Years of Solitude into Punjabi. His own publications include ten books in Punjabi and three in English, ranging from studies of Sant Singh Sekhon to Amrita Sher-Gil, the legendary painter, and Surjit Patar to Antonio Gramsci, the European philosopher. He is currently working on a six-volume History of Modern Punjabi Literature.

9. Prof. Gurcharan Singh Aulakh is a former professor and the author of 60 books, including 55 in Punjabi and five in English. Among these books are History of Babbar Akali Lehar, Sikh Generals and Gallant Warriors (2006), History of Sikhs: Men and Movements, 1469-2009 (2009).

10. Dr Gurmel Singh Sidhu is a Professor of Biology at California State University, Fresno. He is also a Director of Research and Development for Greek and Turkish biotech companies. Dr. Sidhu has written several scientific books, including Genetics of Pathogenic Fungi (1986), AIDS: A Miserable Disease (2003), Life and Cloning (2004), and DNA: The Language of Life (2006). He has also authored over 150 scientific papers for a range of scientific journals. Dr. Sidhu is also a renowned and highly accomplished literary critic who has authored nine books of poetry, edited another nine, and written over 100 literary articles and reviews.

11. Dr. Nirmal Singh Mann is
a Professor of Medicine & Gastroenterology and Senior Consultant on Gastroenterology and Hepatology at University of California, Davis Medical Center. A graduate of Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, he later also earned a Ph.D. in nutrition and a D.Sc. in gastroenterology. Dr. Mann is also certified as a Fellow by the Royal College of Physicians of Canada in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. He has served on the medical school faculty boards of University of Alberta, University of Louisville, Texas A&M University College, and University of California, Davis. Author of two books and 350 papers relating to his specialty, he has also published a biography of Sikh pioneer Pakher Singh Gill. An avid follower of Urdu poetry, he has additionally published 3 collections of his own Urdu poems.

12. Dr. Sukhmandar Singh is a Professor of Civil Engineering and a holder of Nicholson Family Chair in Engineering at Santa Clara University. He is also a visiting faculty at Cambridge University UK. He earned his Ph.D. from U. C. Berkeley. Dr. Singh served as the first president of “The Sikh Council Of North America.” He is a long-time organizer and participant in conferences related to Sikh affairs and studies within that field.

13. Dr. Amrik Singh is a Professor of Punjabi and ethnic studies at California State University, Sacramento. He holds a Ph.D. in English. Formerly president for two years of the Punjabi Literary Society of California, he is also active in the Punjabi American Heritage Society. A journalist for The Ambedkar Times and The Sacramento Examiner, Dr. Singh pursues study of Sikh-Americans, globalization, the history and socio-politics of India, and a range of other issues.

14. Inder Singh is devoted to life-long and full-time community service. A regular writer on Indian diaspora issues, he is currently Chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). In 1989, he became president of the National Federation of Indian-American Associations (NFIA) and organized the First Global Convention of PIOs in New York. He later served as chairman of the NFIA and remains an advisor to the group. He was at the forefront of formation of GOPIO and has overseen its advocacy of many human rights issues. His work has involved sending a delegation to the UN in 2000 to take up the cause of human rights violations of Indo-Fijians, raising international outcry against attacks on Indians in Germany in 2008, and decrying the racist attacks on Indian students in Australia in 2009 – 2010. In the 1980s, he was instrumental in preventing a drastic reduction by the U.S. of the immigration quota for family reunification. Dr. Karen Leonard described him as an“electrifying force, a social unifier.”

15. Prof. Malwinder Jit Singh Waraich is an historian and author of the first official biography of Bhagat Singh, Bhagat Singh The Eternal Rebel (2007). He is an expert on the history of the Ghadar Movement which coincided with the foundation of the Sikh-American community. Since 1966, he has been the spirit behind the collection of documents from the families of Sikh martyrs and has produced many digitized panels of these documents which cover the period of The First War of Independence, The Trials and Hangings of Ghadarites, The Jallianwala Massacre, The Kakori Case, The Soldier Martyrs, The INA Trials, and others. He has authored over a dozen books, including War Against King Emperor: Ghadar of 1914-15 (2001), Tryst With Martyrdom: Trial of Madan Lal Dhingra (2003), The Hanging of Bhagat Singh: Complete Tribunal Proceedings With Sukhdev’s Remarks (2005), The Babbar Akali Case Judgement (2007), History of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha (2007), Lahore Conspiracy Cases I and II (2008), and First Lahore Conspiracy Case: Mercy Petition (2010).

16. Dr. Jasbir Singh Mann is an orthopedic surgeon, practicing since 1980, and a scholar and writer on Sikh issues. His articles have appeared in a range of journals, including Nishaan, The Sikh Review, and Abstracts of Sikh Studies, and in several books. He has co-edited four books on Sikhism and arranged many international Sikh Studies conferences including in 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, and 2004. A recipient in 2001 of a D.Lit. (Honoris causa) from Punjab University, Patiala for his contributions to Sikh studies, he is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons and a Fellow of the American College of International Physicians.

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