nijhawan


Michael Nijhawan

Photo of Michael Nijhawan

Department of Sociology

Associate Professor

Office: Vari Hall, 2146
Phone: (416) 736-2100 Ext: 77994
Email: nijhawan@yorku.ca

Accepting New Graduate Students


I am a social anthropologist and cultural sociologist interested in the fields of transnational migration, religion, violence and trauma. My research agenda crosses the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, critical religious studies, Sikh Studies and Islam. My recent research focused on the long-term effects of social, legal and political violence on Sikh and Ahmadi diaspora communities in Toronto and Frankfurt. I have been exploring how these communities negotiate experiences of both marginalization and resilience in the context of everyday lived religion. In this context I have introduced the concept of Precarious Diasporas as a conduit to explore the fragility, mutability and complexity of diaspora communities. For an overview: "Mapping Precarity and Politicisation in Punjabi Diasporas" Click Here My future research interests lie in the area of medical sociology and anthropology.

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Degrees

Dr. Phil. Anthropology, University of Heidelberg
M.A. Anthropology, Psychology, Education, University of Heidelberg

Research Interests

Anthropology , Sociology, Diaspora Formations & Transnational Migration, Medical Anthropology & Medical Sociology, Violence, Suffering, and Culture, Cultural Sociology, Social Anthropology, South Asian Studies

Current Research Projects

Predicaments of a "Post-Conflict Generation": A Comparative Study of Sikh and Ahmadiyya Diaspora Formations

    Description:

    This research project aims at methodological and theoretical innovation in the scholarship on transnational religious practices and diaspora formation. The project examines how, over the last three decades, experiences and memories of violence have affected contemporary social relations and religious practices of Sikh and Ahmadi youth in Germany and Canada. This project places a strong emphasis on the current situation and self understanding of a younger generation of Canadian-born and German-born Sikhs and Ahmadis, who are an active part of cultural reorientations and social change. As a "post-conflict" generation (those born after the violent upheavals of the 1980s), this generation is intimately tied to representations and family narratives of violence and trauma and yet in many ways active in overcoming the legacy of these events. On the basis of a qualitative research design with several clusters of individuals from both communities in two diasporic locations (the Frankfurt/Main region and the Greater Toronto Area), this research will allow us to better understand the role of this younger generation against the background of both nationally specific contexts of socialization and the transnational practices and forms of affiliation which bridge this divide.

    See more
    Role: Principal Supervisor

    Start Date:
      Month: Apr   Year: 2010

    End Date:
      Month: Mar   Year: 2013

Books

Publication
Year

The Precarious Diasporas of Sikh and Ahmadiyya Generations

2016

Suffering, Art, and Aesthetics.

2014

Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols, and the Articulation of Identities in South Asia

2009

Dhadi Darbar. Religion, Violence, and the Performance of Sikh History

2006

Book Chapters

Publication
Year

Constructing a Genuine Religious Character: The Impact of the Asylum Court on the Ahmadiyya Community in Germany. In: M. Fuchs et al. (eds). Religious Individualization: Types and Cases. Historical and Crosscultural Explorations. W. de Gruyter (forthcoming Feb 2019)

2019

Migrant Precarity and Religious Individualisation. In: M. Fuchs et al. (eds). Religious Individualization: Types and Cases. Historical and Crosscultural Explorations. W. de Gruyter (forthcoming Feb 2019)

2019

Aesthetics, Sikhism. In: Arvind-pan Singh Mandair (ed.) Sikhism. Heidelberg & New York: Springer, 1-11.

2018

Precarious Presences, Hallucinatory Times: Configurations of Religions Otherness in German Leitkulturalist Discourse. In: Markus Dressler & Arvind Mandair (eds.), Secularism and Religion-Making. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 243-68.

2011

Memory, Genre, Voice: The Partition Motif in a Punjabi Performative Genre. In Smita Jassal & Eyal Ben-Ari (eds.), The Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts: Israel-Palestine, India-Pakistan, Germany East-West. London: Sage Publications, 2007.

2007

Journal Articles

Publication
Year

Contesting Memory and Citizenship in Canada. Citizenship Studies 22(4): 347-57

2018

Haunted by the Event: A Response. Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory. Inaugural Theory Colloquium on my book The Precarious Diasporas of Sikh and Ahmadiyya Generations (Palgrave, 2016)

2018

1984 and the Diasporic Politics of Aesthetics. Reconfigurations and New Constellations Among Toronto's Sikh Youth. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 17(2): 196-219.

2014

"Lullabies for Broken Children": Diasporic Citizenship and the Dissenting Voices of Young Sikhs in Canada. Sikh Formations 9(3): 299-321.

2013

Violence, Memory, and the Dynamics of Transnational Youth Formations. Sikh Formations 9(3): 269-77.

2013

Sikhism, Traumatic Repetition, and the Question of Aesthetic Sovereignty. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 23(2) (2011): 128-142

2011

“Today, We are all Ahmadi.” Configurations of Heretic Otherness between Lahore and Berlin. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 37(3): 429-447

2010

Cultural, Linguistic and Political Translations: Dhadi Urban Music. Co-authored with V. Kalra. Sikh Formations 3(1) (2007): 67-80

2007

Editorial: Religion, Politics and the Inner Space of Translation. Sikh Formations 3(1) (2007): 1-11

2007

Deportability, Medicine, and the Law. Anthropology and Medicine 12(3) (2005): 271-86.

2005

Creative Works

Publication
Year

Musafer. - Sikhi is Travelling. Documentary Film, co-dir. K. Singh.

2009

Approach to Teaching


In my understanding, teaching begins with the creation of an active learning environment in the classroom that is conducive to the development of academic skills and that fosters processes of learning through social interaction. Teaching has never unfolded in a social and political vacuum, particularly not in sociology. I am committed to a critical school of social theory in which learning in the classroom is oriented towards societal change and the intellectual and ethical flourishing of the person. Whatever course material I teach – be it on the undergraduate or graduate level – has components that speak directly to global societal issues that are salient to our times. As a sociologist and anthropologist, I am specifically sensitive to the diversity of thought and knowledge and so try to actively push students to step outside of their taken-for-granted frames of seeing the world.

I have been awarded the 2011-12 and 2013-14 John O'Neill Awards for Excellence in Teaching (SUSA).Thanks to all of you for nominating me and honoring my work with this award!


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall 2018 AP/SOCI3650 3.0 A Sociology of Religion LECT
Fall/Winter 2018 AP/SOCI4230 6.0 A Soci. of Cultures & Ethnic Identities SEMR


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2018 AP/SOCI4230 6.0 A Soci. of Cultures & Ethnic Identities SEMR
Winter 2019 GS/SOCI6200 3.0 M Contemporary Topics in Social Theory SEMR


I am a social anthropologist and cultural sociologist interested in the fields of transnational migration, religion, violence and trauma. My research agenda crosses the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, critical religious studies, Sikh Studies and Islam. My recent research focused on the long-term effects of social, legal and political violence on Sikh and Ahmadi diaspora communities in Toronto and Frankfurt. I have been exploring how these communities negotiate experiences of both marginalization and resilience in the context of everyday lived religion. In this context I have introduced the concept of Precarious Diasporas as a conduit to explore the fragility, mutability and complexity of diaspora communities. For an overview: "Mapping Precarity and Politicisation in Punjabi Diasporas" Click Here My future research interests lie in the area of medical sociology and anthropology.

Degrees

Dr. Phil. Anthropology, University of Heidelberg
M.A. Anthropology, Psychology, Education, University of Heidelberg

Research Interests

Anthropology , Sociology, Diaspora Formations & Transnational Migration, Medical Anthropology & Medical Sociology, Violence, Suffering, and Culture, Cultural Sociology, Social Anthropology, South Asian Studies

Current Research Projects

Predicaments of a "Post-Conflict Generation": A Comparative Study of Sikh and Ahmadiyya Diaspora Formations

    Description:

    This research project aims at methodological and theoretical innovation in the scholarship on transnational religious practices and diaspora formation. The project examines how, over the last three decades, experiences and memories of violence have affected contemporary social relations and religious practices of Sikh and Ahmadi youth in Germany and Canada. This project places a strong emphasis on the current situation and self understanding of a younger generation of Canadian-born and German-born Sikhs and Ahmadis, who are an active part of cultural reorientations and social change. As a "post-conflict" generation (those born after the violent upheavals of the 1980s), this generation is intimately tied to representations and family narratives of violence and trauma and yet in many ways active in overcoming the legacy of these events. On the basis of a qualitative research design with several clusters of individuals from both communities in two diasporic locations (the Frankfurt/Main region and the Greater Toronto Area), this research will allow us to better understand the role of this younger generation against the background of both nationally specific contexts of socialization and the transnational practices and forms of affiliation which bridge this divide.

    Project Type: Funded
    Role: Principal Supervisor

    Start Date:
      Month: Apr   Year: 2010

    End Date:
      Month: Mar   Year: 2013

All Publications


Book Chapters

Publication
Year

Constructing a Genuine Religious Character: The Impact of the Asylum Court on the Ahmadiyya Community in Germany. In: M. Fuchs et al. (eds). Religious Individualization: Types and Cases. Historical and Crosscultural Explorations. W. de Gruyter (forthcoming Feb 2019)

2019

Migrant Precarity and Religious Individualisation. In: M. Fuchs et al. (eds). Religious Individualization: Types and Cases. Historical and Crosscultural Explorations. W. de Gruyter (forthcoming Feb 2019)

2019

Aesthetics, Sikhism. In: Arvind-pan Singh Mandair (ed.) Sikhism. Heidelberg & New York: Springer, 1-11.

2018

Precarious Presences, Hallucinatory Times: Configurations of Religions Otherness in German Leitkulturalist Discourse. In: Markus Dressler & Arvind Mandair (eds.), Secularism and Religion-Making. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 243-68.

2011

Memory, Genre, Voice: The Partition Motif in a Punjabi Performative Genre. In Smita Jassal & Eyal Ben-Ari (eds.), The Partition Motif in Contemporary Conflicts: Israel-Palestine, India-Pakistan, Germany East-West. London: Sage Publications, 2007.

2007

Books

Publication
Year

The Precarious Diasporas of Sikh and Ahmadiyya Generations

2016

Suffering, Art, and Aesthetics.

2014

Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols, and the Articulation of Identities in South Asia

2009

Dhadi Darbar. Religion, Violence, and the Performance of Sikh History

2006

Journal Articles

Publication
Year

Contesting Memory and Citizenship in Canada. Citizenship Studies 22(4): 347-57

2018

Haunted by the Event: A Response. Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory. Inaugural Theory Colloquium on my book The Precarious Diasporas of Sikh and Ahmadiyya Generations (Palgrave, 2016)

2018

1984 and the Diasporic Politics of Aesthetics. Reconfigurations and New Constellations Among Toronto's Sikh Youth. Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies 17(2): 196-219.

2014

"Lullabies for Broken Children": Diasporic Citizenship and the Dissenting Voices of Young Sikhs in Canada. Sikh Formations 9(3): 299-321.

2013

Violence, Memory, and the Dynamics of Transnational Youth Formations. Sikh Formations 9(3): 269-77.

2013

Sikhism, Traumatic Repetition, and the Question of Aesthetic Sovereignty. Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 23(2) (2011): 128-142

2011

“Today, We are all Ahmadi.” Configurations of Heretic Otherness between Lahore and Berlin. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 37(3): 429-447

2010

Cultural, Linguistic and Political Translations: Dhadi Urban Music. Co-authored with V. Kalra. Sikh Formations 3(1) (2007): 67-80

2007

Editorial: Religion, Politics and the Inner Space of Translation. Sikh Formations 3(1) (2007): 1-11

2007

Deportability, Medicine, and the Law. Anthropology and Medicine 12(3) (2005): 271-86.

2005

Creative Works

Publication
Year

Musafer. - Sikhi is Travelling. Documentary Film, co-dir. K. Singh.

2009

Approach to Teaching


In my understanding, teaching begins with the creation of an active learning environment in the classroom that is conducive to the development of academic skills and that fosters processes of learning through social interaction. Teaching has never unfolded in a social and political vacuum, particularly not in sociology. I am committed to a critical school of social theory in which learning in the classroom is oriented towards societal change and the intellectual and ethical flourishing of the person. Whatever course material I teach – be it on the undergraduate or graduate level – has components that speak directly to global societal issues that are salient to our times. As a sociologist and anthropologist, I am specifically sensitive to the diversity of thought and knowledge and so try to actively push students to step outside of their taken-for-granted frames of seeing the world.

I have been awarded the 2011-12 and 2013-14 John O'Neill Awards for Excellence in Teaching (SUSA).Thanks to all of you for nominating me and honoring my work with this award!


Current Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall 2018 AP/SOCI3650 3.0 A Sociology of Religion LECT
Fall/Winter 2018 AP/SOCI4230 6.0 A Soci. of Cultures & Ethnic Identities SEMR


Upcoming Courses

Term Course Number Section Title Type
Fall/Winter 2018 AP/SOCI4230 6.0 A Soci. of Cultures & Ethnic Identities SEMR
Winter 2019 GS/SOCI6200 3.0 M Contemporary Topics in Social Theory SEMR