Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies

Program Chair, Interdisciplinary Program in Religion, Literature and the Arts

Elected Member, UBC Senate 2017-2020

Elected Member, South Asia Council, Association for Asian Studies, 2017-2020.

Elected Member, Steering Committee, Religion in South Asia Unit, American Academy of Religion, 2017-20

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Current ongoing projects:

  • Modern Punjabi language and literature across borders: This project documents and analyzes the advocacy movement for the Punjabi language and its literature across national boundaries since the 1940s, with a focus on its secular commitments and its relationship to religious mobilization. I received SSHRC Insight Development grant support for initial research on this project from 2013-5 (extended to 2016) and will pursue related research as a Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute of Advanced Studies at UBC in 2016-7.
  • The historical formations of Punjabi in the (late) vernacular millennium: This project examines the historical emergence of the Punjabi language in relation to broader theories of vernacularization in north India, and particularly with reference to religious community articulation. This project emerges out of and alongside the research undertaken on modern Punjabi language and literature, to account for the historical formations of Punjabi and its manifestation in Sufi and Sikh contexts. As a visiting Fellow at Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt, Germany I will explore early Punjabi’s religious valences in relation to broader theories of vernacularization and religious individualization (the ongoing project at Max-Weber-Kolleg).
  • Luna’s Voice: Performing gender, caste, and religion is a multi-faceted exploration of Punjabi and English language texts and performances related to the Punjabi qissa or narrative tradition of Puran Bhagat, which tells the tell of a young woman forced to be the second wife of a much older man and the conflicts that emerge as a result. We will hold an exploratory workshop on ways of dramatizing the narrative in Spring 2017, with the goal of producing a full-length theatrical piece drawing on existing and new interpretations of the narrative, exploring caste, gender, and religious identity in the tale in multiple early modern and modern versions.
  • Project team member on grant held by Churnjeet Mahn (University of Strathclyde, UK) from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK), 2016-20. Our part of this grant, entitled “Punjab Creative Interruptions,“examines how marginalized communities have used the arts, media and creativity to challenge exclusion. A particular interest of the project is in remembering a shared religious past within the Punjabi landscape.
  • Contributor and lead for Punjabi literature for DELI, the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Indian Literatures, a project emerging out of four French institutional partners: the academic research teams THALIM (Theory and History of Arts of Literatures in Modernity), MII (Iranian and Indian Worlds) and CERC (Centre for Comparatist Research and Studies), and the laboratory Résurgences. The project is based in Paris and is lead by Anne Castaing (CNERS/THALIM) and Nicolas Dejenne and Claudine Le Blanc (Université Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle).



  • The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition
  • New York: Oxford University Press, 2012; New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Edited volume

  • Time, History, and the Religious Imaginary in South Asia. London: Routledge, 2011. Includes work by: Aparna Balachandran (Delhi University), Varuni Bhatia (Michigan), Nicolas Dejenne (Sorbonne), Purnima Dhavan (University of Washington), James Hare (Columbia University), James Hegarty (Cardiff), Rajeev Kinra (Northwestern), Arvind-pal Singh Mandair (Michigan),Rastin Mehri (SOAS), Christian Novetzke (University of Washington), and Teena Purohit (Boston University), as well as my introductory essay.

Journal Articles/Book chapters

  • “Bajwa has nothing more to say” by Zubair Ahmed, translated by Anne Murphy with Zubair Ahmed. In Pakistani Literature (Journal of the Pakistan Academy of Letters). 18, 1 (2015): 86-93.
  • “A Millennial Sovereignty? Recent Works on Sikh Martial and Political Cultures in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,” A review article of When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699–1799 by Purnima Dhavan; The Sikh Zafar-namah of Guru Gobind Singh: A Discursive Blade in the Heart of the Mughal Empire by Louis Fenech; Debating the Dasam Granth by Robin Rinehart; Sikh Militancy in the Seventeenth Century: Religious Violence in Mughal and Early Modern India by Hardip Singh Syan. In History of Religions, 55, 1 (August 2015): 89-104.
  • “Performing the Komagata Maru: Theatre and the Work of Memory.” In Studies in Canadian Literature 40, 1 (2015): 45-73.
  • “Dead Man’s Float,” Translation of a short story by Lahore-based Punjabi writer Zubair Ahmed, completed in collaboration with Mr. Ahmed. Published in: South Asian Ensemble: A Canadian Quarterly of Literature, Arts & Culture 7, 1 & 2 (Winter and Spring 2015): 158-165.
  • “The formation of the ethical Sikh subject in the era of British colonial reform,” revised and expanded version of essay published in 2013 conference proceedings (below). In Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory 11, 1 (2015): 149-159.
  • “Sikh Museuming,” in Sacred Objects in Secular Spaces: Exhibiting Asian Religions in Museums, edited by Bruce Sullivan (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), 49-64, 157.
  • “The uses of the ‘folk’: Cultural Historical Practice and the Modernity of the Guga Tradition” in South Asian History and Culture (July 2015): 1-21. Reprinted as “Uses of the Folk: cultural historical practice and the Guga tradition” in Cultural Studies in India edited by Rana Nayar, Pushpinder Syal and Akhsaya Kumar (New York: Routledge, 2016), 117-138.
  • “A Diasporic Temporality: New narrative writing from Punjabi-Canada” in Towards a Diasporic Imagination of the Present: An eternal sense of homelessness, edited by Tapati Bharadwaja (Bangalore: Lies and Big Feet Press, 2015), 9-30.
  •  “Dissent and Diversity in South Asia Religions,” in The Management of Intramural Dissent on Core Beliefs (Cambridge Univ. Press), 158-185, edited by Simone Chambers & Peter Nosco (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).
  • Chapters on “Representations of Sikh History” and “Sikh Material Culture” for The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies, edited by Pashaura Singh and Louis Fenech (Oxford University Press, 2014), 94-106 and 449-458.
  • “The formation of the ethical Sikh subject in the era of British colonial reform,” in Conference Proceedings for `The Making of Modern Punjab: Education, Science and Social Change in Punjab c. 1850-c. 2000’, Panjab University (Chandigarh), October 24-26, 2013, pgs. 69-81.
  • “Defining the Religious and the Political: The Administration of Sikh Religious Sites in Colonial India and the Making of a Public Sphere” for special issue on “Sikhs in Public Space” inSikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory. 9, 1 (2013): 51-62.
  • “The gurbilas literature and the idea of ‘religion’” in Punjab Reconsidered: History, Culture, and Practice, edited by Anshu Malhotra and Farina Mir (New York and New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012), 93-115.