PhD Candidate Gurpreet Sehra to speak at Sikholars Conference


Acts of Appropriation and the Gendered Body

How do histories of appropriation manifest themselves today in relation to Sikh-Punjabi bodies? What are the power relations that are at play? Who has power? What has been appropriated and what is the lasting impact of this act? I aim to use the history of Dutch wax prints as a starting point for my investigation into cultural appropriation and the gendered Sikh-Punjabi body. In utilizing and researching Dutch wax prints, commonly referred to as ‘African’ textiles, I look to create connections between the often ambiguous visual forms found on the textiles and the colonial and commercial history of this surface with other gender-based research. The history of this material serves as an important example and metaphor for the impact and longevity of colonial processes. I relate this material history to the various Sikh routes of migration through Africa and current and changing masculinities and femininities within Sikh-Punjabi diasporas. Linking migrant and geographical histories and current realities to materiality and material histories is a connection I wish to explore. Through the research I aim to bring to light various race relations, especially in light of divided communities and false and tolerant multiculturalism.
Gurpreet is a multidisciplinary artist who works in traditional and contemporary media, including painting, silkscreen, photography, video, and conceptual installation. In her current practice, she sources found images, video and text to examine her own gendered position in relation to current conceptions of diasporic Sikh-Punjabi masculinity. Gurpreet was born and brought up in the Greater Toronto Area. She currently works and resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is pursuing a practice-based PhD at Transart Institute.
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