Katy Pal Sian
From Materia Islamica
Katy P. Sian (b. 1985) is a sociology researcher, academic and lecturer of Sikh heritage, currently working for the University of York, and specialises in the subject of race relations, particularly between Sikhs and Muslims—or more specifically Sikhs and Pakistanis. She has been especially known for exposing and demolishing the well known conspiracy theory of the "predatory Muslim male" and "forced conversation" narrative prevalent in the Sikh community in the United Kingdom, and which is spread by radical, misogynistic, Sikh men wishing to control the movements, associations and freedom of Sikh women.[n. 1] She holds two academic prizes for her work, namely the Hallsworth Fellowship (2013) and the Reward the Real Heroes in the Struggle Against Islamophobia (2014). Sian's work has also been pivotal in exposing the level of Islamophobia amongst Sikhs, who have used it to such an extent that it has become "central to the production of a distinct diasporic Sikh identity". Sian attended the University of Leeds where she completed her PhD in 2009, lecturing there until 2012, where she moved to Manchester to do the same until 2016, whereupon she moved to the University of York. She has also lectured in the United States, Canada and Portugal; holding visiting research posts at the University of California (2011), the University of Victoria (2012), and the University of Coimbra respectively. As a result of her work, she has been attacked relentlessly by misogynistic members of the Sikh community, who have targeted her work in order to smear her as an "Islamist", "Paki bitch". She responded to these attacks in 2018, detailing threats against her for speaking out, and the sexual harassment she's received from Sikh men.
Sian's criticism of Sikh men peddling racist Islamophobic abuse and conspiracy theories has drawn strong ire from some of members of the male Sikh community who have summarily dismissed her research on grounds that she has "slept with a Paki" and is a "Paki loving bitch". As a result she has been subjected to harassment and sexual abuse from the same of members of the Sikh faith who claim they want to protect Sikh females from Muslims. This has namely occurred from the more religiously observant, middle-aged and extremist Sikh male side—who are the main perpetrators of the forced conversion, kidnapping and Sikh grooming conspiracy theories; as noted by The Independent who published an expose on Sikh Youth UK in 2018, who are a group who have been summarily exploiting the "Grooming Gang" controversy in efforts to radicalise the Sikh community, and who have spread their extremism freely across university campuses. Even if the "sleeping with a Paki" allegations were true, her private sexual relations wouldn't negate her contributions to the field of sociology, as her work has been subjected to the rigorous process of scientific peer review. Indeed her work has been pivotal in highlighting hirtherto issues which were known to exist but ignored in academia; having worked with scholars such as Monish Bhatia, Scott Poynting, Waqas Tufail, Salman Sayyid and Ian Law in highlight them. Sian has neither denied nor confirmed the sexual allegations against her; but notes that the concept of shame and honour is being used against her in order to discredit her findings. She has also oddly been labelled as an "Islamist", and threatened by Sikh men to have made "videos" on her slandering her private life in an effort to silence her, noting the focus on her sex life as an "obsession", having started in 2013.
- "As someone who identifies as a Sikh, I researched extensively the notion of Sikh Islamophobia, which ironically became further validated through the online Islamophobia I received from some members of the Sikh community. One of the main components of my research was to challenge the idea of ‘predatory’ Muslim males targeting ‘vulnerable’ Sikh girls and forcing them to convert into Islam...This is a tale that has been circulating within the Sikh community for some time and one that is underpinned by Islamophobia, racism and Orientalism".
- "Moreover, this tasteless and insensitive fascination with sexual activity seems intended to take away the agency of Sikh women, by locating them as subjects who can only be rescued and saved by Sikh men. According to this vision, any form of agency enacted by Sikh women undermines ideas of Sikh masculinity, and the preoccupation with Muslim ‘groomers’ acts as a vehicle for cementing hegemonic patriarchal norms within the community. This hyper-masculine performance is a clear exercise for establishing dominance over Sikh women".
- "In light of the Weinstein scandal, it is more important than ever to challenge systemic forms of patriarchy, abuse and power. Interestingly, Sikh Youth UK, who laud themselves as anti-grooming champions, have seemingly little to say on Weinstein. Moreover, they have not only played down instances of child sex abuse perpetrated by non-Muslim offenders but also failed to adequately address sexual abuse within the Sikh community itself — a clear sign for many of how deeply-embedded Islamophobia and patriarchy are within the organization".
- "Charges that I am a ‘Sikh loather’ or a ‘terrorist sympathiser’ are key elements of a narrative that works to close down spaces for presenting alternative, critical understandings. As such, opportunities that may pave the way for an enabling dialogue are prevented. Whenever presented with such hostility, I am always reminded of an interview I carried out some years ago with Professor Ronit Lentin. Lentin is a leading academic who happens to be Jewish and critical of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its associated politics of Islamophobia and patriarchy".
Peer Reviewed Publications (Sikhs and Sikhism)
- Katy Pal Sian (2011). 'Forced' conversions in the British Sikh diaspora. South Asian Popular Culture. 9 (2): 115–130. doi:10.1080/14746681003798060. ISSN 1474-6689.
- Katy Pal Sian (2011). Understanding Inter-Brasian Conflict. Sikh Formations. 7 (2): 111–130. doi:10.1080/17448727.2011.593295. ISSN 1744-8727.
- Katy Pal Sian (2012). Gurdwaras, Guns And Grudges In 'Post-Racial' America. Sikh Formations. 8 (3): 293–297. doi:10.1080/17448727.2012.752676. ISSN 1744-8727.
- Katy Pal Sian (2013). Losing My Religion. Sikh Formations. 9 (1): 39–50. doi:10.1080/17448727.2013.774707. ISSN 1744-8727.
- Katy Pal Sian (2013). The Politics of Sikh Islamophobia. (Excerpt: Debating Islam: Negotiating Religion, Europe, and the Self). Transcript Verlag. Bielefeld. p. 119-137.
- Katy Pal Sian (2017). Surveillance, Islamophobia, and Sikh Bodies in the War on Terror. Islamophobia Studies Journal. Vol. 4, No. 1. pp. 37-52.
Responses to Criticisms/Personal Attacks and Sexual Harassment
- Katy Pal Sian (2018). Stupid Paki Loving Bitch: The Politics of Online Islamophobia and Misogyny: 117–138. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-71776-0_7. ISBN 978-3-319-71775-3.
Peer Reviewed Publications (Anti-Muslimness/Islamophobia)
- Katy Pal Sian (2010). Thinking Through Islamophobia: Global Perspectives (Excerpt: "Don’t Freak I’m a Sikh"). London, Hurst, 2010. pp. 251.
- Katy Pal Sian (2013). Spies, Surveillance And Stakeouts: Monitoring Muslim Moves In British State Schools. Race Ethnicity and Education. 18 (2): 183–201. doi:10.1080/13613324.2013.830099. ISSN 1361-3324.
- Katy Pal Sian (2017). Born Radicals? Prevent, Positivism, and 'Race-Thinking'. Palgrave Communications. 3 (1). doi:10.1057/s41599-017-0009-0. ISSN 2055-1045.
Peer Reviewed Publications (Anti-Blackness)
- Katy Pal Sian (2017). Being Black in a White World: Understanding Racism in British Universities. Papeles del CEIC. 2017 (2). doi:10.1387/pceic.17625. ISSN 1695-6494.
- Katy Pal Sian; Ian Law; Salman Sayyid (2013). Racism, Governance, and Public Policy: Beyond Human Rights. Routledge. ISBN 1-135-08366-5.
- Katy Pal Sian (2013). Unsettling Sikh and Muslim Conflict: Mistaken Identities, Forced Conversions, and Postcolonial Formations. Lexington Books. ISBN 978-0-7391-7875-1.
- Katy Pal Sian (2014). Conversations in Postcolonial Thought. Palgrave Macmillan US. doi:10.1057/9781137463562. ISBN 978-1-137-46356-2.
- Sukhwant Dhaliwal (18th October 2016). Resurgent Sikh Fndamentalism in the UK: time to act?. Open Democracy. WayBackMachine Link. Retrieved January 16th, 2019.