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"Sacred Wear, Endless War: The Hijab and Turban Under Imperial Visuality," Balbir K. Singh - CWGS Assistant Professor Job Talk

Fri, March 23, 2018 | GWB 2.206

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

"Sacred Wear, Endless War: The Hijab and Turban Under Imperial Visuality"

Sacred Wear, Endless War: The Hijab and Turban Under Imperial Visuality

In the wake of renewed attacks on Muslim and Muslim-adjacent communities, the hijab and turban continue to be enveloped as important material objects in the racialization of Muslim and Sikh bodies. Analyzing contemporary visual culture as both testament and counter-archive to a geopolitical project of Islamophobia, “Sacred Wear, Endless War” moves to both assemble and update how we apprehend these unsettling figures. Comparative in scope, this talk looks at the racial, gendered, and queer configurations that the religious symbols and objects of hijab and turban provide. Specifically, this talk examines the twinned contradictions in arguments around religious freedom, as well as the imperialist discourses of security and insurgency in the ongoing Global Wars on Terror. Through readings of recent events, ephemera, and visual culture, Singh argues that the aligned politics of recognition of these two bodies has important effects for the racial, gendered, and sexual politics of American empire.



Balbir K. Singh is Embrey Postdoctoral Fellow in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her PhD from the University of Washington in 2016, and held an appointment in 2016-17 as Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Departments of Asian American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. Currently, Balbir is at work on her first book, Militant Bodies: Violence and Visual Culture Under Islamophobia, which looks at the visual culture and body politics of Muslims and Sikhs under the rise of global Islamophobia. Her scholarly and teaching interests include Asian and Arab American cultural studies, comparative racialized religions, transnational feminist studies, visual culture, anti-colonial and anti-imperial thought, and queer studies. She has published articles for the journals Sikh FormationsCritical Ethnic Studies, and QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking.

Sponsored by: Center for Women's & Gender Studies

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