Department of History

Department of History
Department of History

Sanober Umar

Ph.D. Candidate

Memory, Space and Minority Identity Politics|
Historical Ethnography and Sociology|
Hindu Nationalism and the ‘Secular’ Liberal Democratic State|
Indian Muslims and the Politics of Belonging|
Borders and Citizenship Discourse and Performance in Post-Colonial India|
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, working under the supervision of Professor Ishita Pande. My work examines internal “border making” processes for Muslim minorities within Post-Colonial India and the smokescreen of secularism in India’s “liberal democracy” between 1947-1993. Subsequently this work has sought to unearth hitherto largely ignored histories such as caste among Muslims, (ongoing) property appropriation legislatures, police violence, the gendering of Muslim bodies and tenuous articulations of local peace during fragile political times in otherwise romanticized cities such as Lucknow. 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. Thus, this work strives to not just inquire about the “talking subaltern,” but the mechanisms under which subaltern rhetoric are produced in conflict ridden and supposedly “peaceful” cities of Uttar Pradesh.

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)

Upcoming Publication

Routledge Publications (London, UK) | September 30, 2020 | Author for one of the chapters in an anthology of essays for a series entitled "The Islamophobia Reader” (forthcoming).


Providing Protection: Access for Early Legal Advice for Asylum Seekers | EPIM, COMPAS, Irish Refugee Council, Asylum Aid UK, Immigouste Keskes joint publication | July 30, 2014 | Worked as an early draft Research Officer.

List of Major Paper Presentations in Conferences

Select List of Conferences

•    November 2018 – Public Service Alliance Canada, Kingston – “Decent Work Under Doug Ford”  Bill 47 and its Impact on Precariously Racialized, Gendered and Migrant Workers.
•    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 “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.
•    April 2018 – St Paul’s University, “Memory at the Intersection of Socio-Economic Inequality and Mass Violence: The Case of Subaltern Self-Censorship in times of Tenuous Peace,” Ottawa.
•    November 2017 – NWSA: Forty Years after Combahee: Black Lives Matter and Feminist Engagement, Special Session Panel with Dr. Chandra Talpade Mohanty on “Dalit Feminisms: Challenges and Relearning Solidarities in a Transnational Context,” Baltimore. Awarded Graduate Student Scholar prize by renowned feminist Barbara Ransbary.
•    June 2016 – University of Toronto, “Indian Vegetarianism in Global Media Representation and the Caste Politics of Food”, Toronto.
•    March 2016 – York University, “Pedagogy and Ethnography: South Asian Critical Thinking beyond Academia”, 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,” Berkeley.
•    March 2015 – University of Chicago, South Asia Graduate Conference, “Reading Borders in Indian School History Textbooks,” Chicago.
•    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.
•    June 2012 - University of Oxford, Green Templeton College, “The Myth on the Crisis of Immigration,” at the ‘Human Welfare Conference,’ Oxford.
•    April 2012 - International Studies Association, “The Limits of Transnational Feminist Activism” in San Diego, California.
•    May 2010 – University of Pompeu Fabra, “Urban Spaces and the Unwanted Poor – Neoliberal Laws in Modern India,” Barcelona, Catalonia/Spain.
•    2005-2008 - Presented for three consecutive years at the gala annual event of ‘Kaalcharka.’ Topics included were “Constructing Pride, Constructing Resistance: The Image of the Black Male in Richard Wright’s ‘The Native Son’” “Taking back the Faith: Muslim Women’s Theologies of Liberation in Rabbia’s Poetry,”  and “Colour Me Mad: Re-reading Gericault’s Paintings of the Insane with the Birth of Psychology”

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.