Grad Students

Harleen Kaur

Contact Information

Office  n/a

My area of study is on the subjectivity of the Punjabi Sikh diaspora across empires, specifically examining how Sikhs have reconstructed their very visibly Othered identity to attain national belonging through whiteness across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Through semi-structured interviews, community oral histories, archival research, and ethnography, I am building a multi-national, multi-generational history of how Punjabi Sikhs have often been at the forefront of constructing race and borders of whiteness across the colonial map to examine the impacts of racial trauma across time for limiting how Punjabi Sikhs are imagining their belonging and liberation. My work speaks to diasporic identity formation through the lens of race, nationalism, empire, religion, collective memory, trauma, and future imaginaries. The intention of this work is to not only provide critical community work on the Punjabi Sikh diaspora, but also an avenue for understanding how subjectivity and belonging for non-white peoples has long been shaped by empire & colonialism from their perspective, rather than the oppressor.

Fields of Study

Race, Nationalism, Trauma, Collective Memory, Belonging, Identity Formation, Sikh Punjabis


Peer-reviewed Manuscripts

Kaur, Harleen and prabhdeep singh kehal*. (2020). Sikhs as Implicated Subjects in the United States: A Reflective Essay (ਵਿਚਾਰ) on Gurmat-Based Interventions in the Movement for Black Lives. Sikh Research Journal 5(2):68-86.                                                          *equal authorship

Kaur, Harleen. (2020). Making Citizenship, Becoming Citizens: How Sikh Punjabis Shaped the Exclusionary Politics of Belonging. Amerasia Journal 46(1): 107-122. New York: Routledge.

  • 2020 Winner of UCLA Asian American Studies Center’s Ben and Alice Hirano Best Paper Scholarship Award

 Additional publications

Kaur, Harleen. (Forthcoming). Radical Narrative Traditions: Communal Storytelling as a Praxis for Liberation. In Nesha Z. Haniff (Ed.), The Pedagogy of Action: Disrupting the Pedagogy of Race,Gender and HIV Engagement in the Diaspora. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kaur, Harleen. (2020). The Potency of Sikh Memory: Time Travel and Memory Construction in the Wake of Disappearance. Review of Faith, Gender, and Activism in the Punjab Conflict: The Wheat Fields Still Whisper by Mallika Kaur. Sikh Research Journal 5(2):96-100.

Kaur, Harleen and Simran Jeet Singh. (2016). Guru Nanak and the Foundation of Sikhi. In Florin Curta and Andrew Holt (Eds.), Great Events in Religion: An Encyclopedia of Pivotal Events in Religious History, 3 Vols. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio.

Kaur, Harleen. Moving On Forward. (2014). In Meeta Kaur and Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh (Eds.), Her Name Is Kaur: Sikh American Women Write about Love, Courage, and Faith. Tempe: She Writes Press.

Manuscripts under preparation

Kaur, Harleen. Legacies of A Martial Race: Interrogating Sikh Punjabi Investment in the Police State.

Grants and Awards

2021                International Institute Dissertation Fieldwork Fellowship, UCLA ($1,550)

2020-2021      Sanctuary Spaces Sawyer Seminar Writing Group, UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy ($1,500)

2020                Graduate Council Diversity Summer Fellowship, UCLA ($8,000)

2020                Institute of American Cultures Research Grant, Asian American Studies Center, UCLA ($6,250)

2019-2020        Graduate Research Mentorship Program, Graduate Division, UCLA ($25,000)

2019                Summer Funding, Sociology Department, UCLA ($2,000)

2019                Research Travel Grant, Canadian Studies, UCLA ($1,000)

2018                Graduate Summer Research Mentorship Program, Graduate Division, UCLA ($6,000)

2017-2022        Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship, Graduate Division, UCLA ($25,000)

Conference Presentations

“Shifting Embodiments of Whiteness: How Sikh Punjabis Solidified the Color Line.” Boston University, Junior Scholars Symposium on Race & Ethnicity in Global Perspectives, April 2020.[1] 

“The Specter of Khalistan: Hauntings of Nation-State Belonging.” Mnemonics Summer School: Memory and Activism, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, September 2019. 

“Erasures of Identity Formation: How US Sikhs Use Whiteness for Visibility.” Critical Perspectives on Race and Human Rights: Transnational Re-Imaginings, Junior Scholars Workshop, UCLA Law School, March 2019.

“‘Sikh Values are American Values’— How Identity-Based Violence Shapes the Sikh Diaspora.” Sikholars Conference, Stanford University, February 2018.

 “Stigma and Status: Challenging the Notion of Empowerment through POA.” Celebrating 15 Years of the Pedagogy of Action in South Africa, University of KwazZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, June 2015.

[1] Cancelled due to public health concerns around COVID-19 pandemic.


Karida Brown

Marcus Anthony Hunter

Cecilia Menjívar

Rupa Marya (UCSF Medicine)


M.A. in Sociology, UCLA, 2019

B.A. in English, University of Michigan, 2015