Dr. Christine Moliner from O.P. Jindal University, Haryana came to SASI as a Visiting Scholar in June to undertake research on the local Punjabi diaspora. During Dr. Moliner’s visit, she held two presentations at the SASI: one with MA student Prabhjot Kaur titled ‘Enough Schooling: Migration to Canada & Aspirations of the Youth in Panjab’ and another with PhD candidate David Singh titled ‘The Indian Farmers’ Protest (2020-21): Religion, Caste, and Gender at Delhi Borders.’
Q&A with Dr. Moliner:
How did you learn about the SASI and the work that the SASI does?
I knew about the research of Dr. Satwinder Bains, as we contributed to a Special Issue of Religions journal on Gender in the Sikh tradition.
What project/research question brought you to Abbotsford?
I came to SASI to present my research on the religious dimension of the Indian Farmers protest, and on the feminization of Punjabi migration to Canada.
With Dr. David Singh, with whom I am co-editing a book soon to be published by Routledge, we gave a talk on the Indian farmers protest, agrarian crisis, authoritarian neo-liberalism and Sikhi as a medium of resistance.
After being introduced to some UFV faculty and administrative staff by Dr. Bains, I understood that there was a strong interest in understanding better the aspirations and motivations of Indian international students, so I invited a former MA student of mine to present the findings of her MA dissertation on the impacts of international migration on educational aspirations of the youth in Punjab. This was quite useful for UFV staff, particularly those involved in internationalisation.
Based on Dr. Bains’ contacts, I also conducted interviews with several Indian students and ex-students of UFV, who have interned at SASI, investigating female student migration and their motivations to come and study in Canada. Without Dr. Bains’ help, they would probably not have accepted to share such personal information.
You also interviewed granthis as part of your research here – how did their answers contribute to your research and what did you learn in these interviews?
I conducted interviews with granthis and ragis that Dr. Bains put me in touch with and, again, without her introduction, they would probably not have shared that much critically important information. With the help of SASI staff, we discussed their work, their migration trajectory, their struggles to raise a family across borders, their relationship with the local sangat and gurdwara management committees, and their key role in the religious transmission among the Sikh Diaspora.
What did you enjoy most about visiting Abbotsford and the SASI?
What was the most fulfilling from both an academic and human experience point of view were my interactions with all SASI staff and sharing their life experience as Canadians of South Asian origin, from different social and educational backgrounds and from different generations. Interacting with Canadian women of Indian, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan origin gave me a very valuable insight in the multicultural nature of Canadian society. It was a tremendous experience to share meals, take part in discussions, meetings, presentations with them, I felt totally at ease and comfortable with them. It was also an amazing opportunity to get to know the exceptionally valuable work they do to document South Asian immigration in BC. Thamilini, SASI’s Digital Asset Archivist gave me a very clear and fascinating introduction to the South Asian Canadian Digital Archives, the minutely accuarate and herculean work that goes into them. Finally, I enjoyed Dr Bains’ fantastic hospitality and her unparalleled knowledge about South Asian immigration history and their lived experience.
Thank you to Dr. Christine Moliner for visiting UFV and the SASI!