MARQUETTE--Northern Michigan University English Professor Jaspal Singh has been selected for a Fulbright Teaching and Research Award for the upcoming academic year. She will teach a graduate course at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi while she works on a manuscript for her book titled Imagining Nations and Homelands in Indian Literature: Gender and Sikh Identity in India and the Diaspora.
“I’m thrilled and excited,” said Singh. “It is an honor to get this prestigious award and research in India is critical to completing my project. As a person from the Indian diaspora, who was born and raised in Burma (now Myanmar), I was always fascinated by the representations of Indians in English literature. My grandparents had migrated to Burma—then part of British India—to earn a living. My parents and I were born there. I moved to India in the late '60s.
“As a person from the Sikh religious minority group, who struggle for national identity in the face of state-sponsored and communal violence, I began an investigation of the representations of Sikhs in Indian literature when I moved to the United States. That was in 1984, the same year that thousands of Sikhs were massacred in India.”
The Sikhs were also the focus of NMU faculty research grants Singh received in 2009 and 2011. One allowed her to do preliminary research in India that resulted in a published article and presentations at two academic conferences in India.
“Those led to a book contract and eventually the Fulbright, which will allow me to do more in-depth research on the subject than I’ve done before,” she added. “Sikh literature has been the focus of scholarship before, but my studies will be cutting edge because no one else to date has undertaken a comprehensive and comparative analysis of Sikh literature produced before, during and after colonialism in India and abroad. Within these literatures, Sikh women’s bodies are often depicted by the dominant male discourse as passive or weak, leading to erasures and invisibility.”
Singh departs in late July and is scheduled to return in early May. She said she hopes to apply her experience in the NMU classroom, teaching a graduate-level minority literature course on the Sikhs and the representation of Sikh women.