prabhdeep singh kehal

Decolonial Options, Oral History, and Refusing Research with Queer and Trans Sikhs

February 9, 12:00 PM

What possibilities do oral histories offer for the study of colonial marginalization of gender, sexuality, and faith in the United States, and how does oral history provide decolonial and anti-colonial opportunities of refusing research? In this talk, dr. kehal engages Indigenous theories of refusal that challenge how the U.S. academy is a settler colonial structure in which people and communities of marginalized backgrounds can only legibly tell stories of harm and damage (Simpson 2007; Tuck and Yang 2014; Grande 2018). This talk discusses the tensions and potentials of refusal with respect to an ongoing, community-engaged project that both conducts oral histories with queer and trans Sikhs in the United States and plans to place these stories in a public, oral history digital archive. In the talk, dr. kehal will share how they and their team have approached this work to better understand storytelling practices of community and self, and to recognize the various ways by which these queer and trans individuals understand their subjectivity formation in relation to faith, intergenerational colonialism, and settler colonial settlement in California.

About the Speaker

prabhdeep singh kehal is a cultural and historical sociologist of race and colonialism and Postdoctoral Fellow with HEAL Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Their research uses qualitative methodologies to explore how frameworks of inclusion are part of a historical and colonial process of forming ideas about race, labor, gender, sexuality, and knowledge within U.S. knowledge institutions, such as research universities and archives. In their current book project on the elite U.S. research professoriate, they investigate how historic racist and misogynist segregation is maintained through cultural processes of defining and justifying hireability from the 1860s to the present. In a second project on archives, they explore how people from marginalized gender, sexual, and faith backgrounds form anti/colonial, decolonial, and anti/casteist subjectivities through the collection of oral histories of queer and trans Sikhs in the United States and the creation of a public, oral history archive. Their work has been published in peer-reviewed academic outlets, such as Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, History and Theory (forthcoming), Sikh Research Journal, and Journal of Community Engagement in Higher Education. They received their PhD in sociology at Brown University.