Cool Kaurs

Sikh Feminist Conference Inspires

“I left feeling invigorated and inspired!”

“There were so many awesome Kaurs in one room! It was amazing!”

“I can’t wait for the next conference!”

This was the general sentiment of those who attended this year’s SAFAR Sikh Feminist Research Institute conference: To Know is Not Enough. The conference took place this past weekend on Saturday, November 8th on the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor campus. The day was packed with guest speakers, poster presentations, networking sessions, and an open mic night.

Very rarely is there time when Sikh women are provided a safe space to share ideas and given permission to push the boundaries of knowledge and action. Also very rare is the opportunity to hear from Kaurs at the top of their field, all in one day. For instance, participants got to hear from professor Dr. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, the Religious Studies Department Chair at Colby College,  Dr. Inderpal Grewal, professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale University, activist-lawyer Palbinder Kaur Shergill, and countless others. For a full list of speakers and a summary of their talks, click hereSAFAR organizers did a wonderful job of balancing academic speakers with practitioners and activists, so there was something for everyone in the audience.

To hear the audio of each presentation, click here.

The audience itself was also a powerhouse of strong women and men. You may recognize some names in the crowd from their Sikh activism or being featured on Kaur Life: activist Balpreet Kaur, artist Kiran “Kay-Ray” Kaur, filmmaker Rasna Kaur, poet Rupi Kaur, speech pathologist Rubeena Kaur, activist Harleen Kaur, filmmaker Sarab Singh Neelam, art therapist Rapinder Kaur, author Inni Kaur, Professor of Anthropology Dr. Sangeeta Luthra, English Professor Parvinder Mehta, Director of the World Sikh Organization Jaskaran Singh Sandhu, Professor of Sikh Studies Dr. Arvind-Pal Mandair….and many many others.

Often times we give lip service to the idea of empowering women and elevating humanity, and we forget to implement our beliefs. So, it was refreshing to see action for change in this realm. The women who presented their projects, their thoughts and their research are all working to continue to work of the Gurus of cultivating a world where the Sikh principles of egalitarianism and empowerment are realized for all.  They are living miri and piri: actions in this temporal world infused with spirituality and love of Waheuguru. The Kaurs present at the conference are all striving to create a more just and compassionate world.

The open mic night was a delightful way to cap off the day. Kiran “Kay Ray” Kaur shared her film, “Kes,” Rupi Kaur shared two poems, (you can watch her perform them here), Amar Raj Singh shared his poem about kes and the dastar, (you can watch him perform it here), and Harleen Kaur read her chapter about the Oak Creek Gurdwara shooting and her personal identity from the book Her Name is Kaur. Listen to an excerpt here.

Kaur Life had the honor of presenting at the poster session. It was so wonderful to meet all of those in person who support Kaur Life in making it a reality! Thank you to everyone who came over to say “hi”! I really enjoyed meeting you and chatting. Kaur Life would like to extend a heartfelt “thank you” to the organizers of SAFAR for this opportunity. Thank you so much everyone!