Balbir K Singh

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Balbir K.Singh is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department ofAsian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Shereceived her PhD in 2016 from the Department of English at the University ofWashington. Her scholarship centers South Asian, Black, and Muslim diasporic bodilycomportment in the context of 20th and 21st centuryhistories of violence.

Specializations / Research Interest(s)

  • Comparative racialized religions
  • Anti-colonial literature and thought
  • Transnational and women of color feminisms
  • Politics of memory and mourning
  • Diaspora, migration, and border studies

Research Description

  • Balbir K.Singh’s work broadly examines thehistoric and contemporary violence against South Asian, Black, and Muslim diasporasthrough theories of difference, mourning, and resistance. Further, she hasextended investments in transnational cultural studies, women of color feministcritique, and queer theory. Singh’s dissertation Militant Bodies: Policing Race, Religion and Violence in the U.S. SikhDiaspora, examines the Sikh diaspora in the United States through the lensof militancy, theorizing anew the relationship between race, violence, andminoritarian politics.

    Currently,Singh is at work on her first book project, CriticalMourning: Racial Matters of Life and Death, which readscomparatively across South Asian, Black and Muslim diasporas with histories inthe U.S., Africa, and Asia, an examination that considers literary and artisticexpressions of mourning. Moreover, she is transforming portions of Militant Bodies to theorize mourning andmilitancy for publication. Singh is presently at work on “Head Dress: Aligningthe Hijab and Turban in Contemporary North America,” a piece that interrogatesthe comparative racialization,gender, and sexual politics of hijabi Muslim bodies and turbaned Sikh bodies inAmerican and Canadian imperial politics. 


  • BA, Special Studies: Postcolonial Studies, SUNY Buffalo
  • MA, Department of English, University of Washington
  • PhD, Department of English, University of Washington


Journal Articles

  • Singh, Balbir K. ""Unjust Attachments: Mourning as Antagonism in Gauri Gill's 1984"." Critical Ethnic Studies. Special Issue: What Justice Wants 2.2 (2016):
  • Singh, Balbir K. ""On the Limits of Charhdi Kala: Oak Creek and Sikh Philosophy in an Age of Terror."." Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory 9.2 (2013):