Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

Sanober Umar

Ph.D. Candidate


Global Histories of Racialization and Caste| Indian Muslims and the Politics of Belonging| Subaltern Studies and Critical Race Theory| Memory, Space and Minority Identity Politics| Hindu Nationalism and the ‘Secular’ Liberal Democratic State| Borders and Citizenship Discourse and Performance in Post-Colonial South Asia| Islamophobia and Media Representation of Minorities| Transnational and Global Hindutva Diaspora Politics| Urban History of Segregation and Ghettoization| Muslim Women and Gender Politics


MSc Migration Studies ( International Development and Social Anthropology), University of Oxford, UK
M.A/MIS in International History and Politics, The Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development (IHEID), Geneva, Switzerland.
B.A (Hons) History, St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, India.


I am presently a PhD candidate and a recipient of the Ontario Trillium Scholarship. My dissertation engages with Global History conversations on the links and dissimilarities between Critical Race Theory and Subaltern Studies via studying the historical processes through which India’s Muslims were rendered casteless, and the gendered racialization project that lay at the heart of that construction between 1947-1993.  Old Lucknow “mohallas” or ghettoes are an important site through which oral, archival, institutional and other documented histories of violence, peace, the sacred and the mundane are studied. The scope of this work is further expanded by tying it to narratives of (i) Global Islamophobia, (ii) model minority aspirations of long-distance Hindu Nationalists in the diaspora and (iii) the close intertwining yet difference between transnational conceptions of race, caste and minoritysm – topics on which I have written, spoken and published on various academic platforms.

Select List of Publications

•    Beyond Whiteness: Rethinking Aryan Nationalisms in Multicultural Canada| Active History| December 14, 2017.
•    Book Review: “God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems” by Ishara Deen| Muslim Girl – Muslim Women Talk Back| September 8, 2017.
•    Triumphing Beyond Trump: Towards a Critical Politics of Solidarity| Warscapes| January 20, 2017.
•    Indian Muslim Women: Caught Between Misogynists and Hypocrites| Kafila| Critical Theory Research Network| November 5, 2016.
•    Alternative Discourses, Constructions and Representations of Muslim Women’s Bodies| The Indian Economist| May 24, 2015.
•    When Birds of a Feather Flock Together: The Requiem for Secularism in the Indian Parliament | The Indian Journal of Secularism, Volume 18, Issue No. 2, July -September 2014, pp. 5-14.
•    Gender and Love Jihad | Hard News (print and electronic issue) | September 8, 2014. Co-Author: Bhoomika Joshi (PhD student, Anthropology, Yale)
•    Bleak Outlook for Women's Empowerment in Uttar Pradesh | Business Standard | December 30, 2014 | Co-Author: Bhoomika Joshi.
•    Crushed Hopes: Underemployment and Deskilling among Skilled Migrant Women | International Organization for Migration Publication | March 8, 2013 | Consultant and Co-Author of the First Chapter on Literature Review. Collaborators: Blandine Mollard (Main Supervisor and Group Leader of the Project)

Select List of Conferences
•    October 2018 – University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Allah Made Us Equal, Even Before The State: The Politics of Recognition among Pasmanda (“lower caste”) Muslims in Lucknow,” and “Roundtable Discussion: Decentering India in South Asian Studies,” Madison.
•    July 2018 – Critical Ethnic Studies, University of British Columbia, “Rethinking Race Relations - Challenging Upper Caste Model Minority Hindu Nationalist Diaspora in North America, and its Violent Agenda in India,” Vancouver.
•    November 2017 – National Women’s Studies Association, Baltimore, “Forty Years after Combahee: Black Lives Matter”: Special Session Panel with Dr. Chandra Mohanty on reflecting on Dalit and subaltern feminisms, caste and racialization in India and North America.
•    June 2016 – University of Toronto, “Indian Vegetarianism in Global Media Representation and the Caste Politics of Food”, Toronto.
•    April 2015 – UC Berkeley, Centre for Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies, Annual Conference on Islamophobia, “Love Jihad- Muslim Men, Muslim Women and the Hindu Man’s Woman.”
•    March 2015 – University of Chicago, South Asia Graduate Conference, “Mapping the Borders of Communal Identity and Citizenship in Post-Colonial India.”
•    February 2014 – Indian Associate of Women’s Studies, “Endangered Gender: Urbanity and the Politics of Apoliticizing Gender in the Indian Polity”, Guwahati, Assam, India.
•    March 2013 – International Studies Association, “When Mobilities Become Problematic Diffusions of Peoples”, San Francisco. Nominated for the Martin O’ Heisler prize for best paper on ethnicity and migration studies.
•    June 2012 - “The Myth on the Crisis of Immigration,” at the ‘Human Welfare Conference’ of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford.
•    April 2012 - International Studies Association, “The Limits of Transnational Feminist Activism with a special emphasis on CEDAW and the Gujarat Riots of 2002” in San Diego, California.

Awards and Scholarships

•    Recipient of Vice President of India Award for “Academic Proficiency” in University of Delhi, India (2008)
•    Thesis Medal at Graduate Institute (IHEID), Geneva, Switzerland (2011)
•    Academic Merit Based Competitive Scholarships, Graduate Institute (IHEID) Geneva (2009-2011)
•    Queen Elizabeth House Scholarship, University of Oxford, UK (2011-2012)
•    Ontario Trillium Award, Queen’s University, Canada (2014-2018)
•    Timothy C.S Franks Research Travel Fund (2017)
•    National Women’s Studies Association/NWSA Graduate Student Scholar Award (2017)
•    Carole Kinnear Award for noteworthy feminist research, Ban Righ Centre Spring Awards (2018)

Other Information of Relevant Interest

Prior to joining Queen’s University, I had worked for several think tanks and transnational research and policy oriented organizations. These include the 'International Organization of Migration' (Geneva), 'Centre On Migration Policy And Society' (Oxford), and the 'Youth Social Forum' (subchapter of World Social Forum in Delhi), on a range of topics from labour rights to migrant issues to state building policies and its impact on precarious asylum seekers. I have also assisted and represented international child welfare advocacy organizations such as World Vision in the UN, Geneva. I am presently also a student representative board member for the 'Ban Righ Centre for Mature Women' in Kingston, Canada, that seeks to aid the progress of women in academia. Occasionally I am a host for the radio program “Women’s Word” on 101.9 FM at CFRC, one of the oldest running programs in campus radio history.