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, Graduate Institute (IHEID), Geneva
B.A (Hons) History, St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi


I am a PhD candidate in my third year and a recipient of the Ontario Trillium Award for international scholars. I am currently pursuing my research interests under the supervision of Dr. Ishita Pande on normative ideas of citizenship, belonging, borders and their impact on minority citizen identity-politics with a special focus on Indian Muslims under Hindu Nationalism. My work is an ethnographic historical-sociological inquiry examining how Indian Muslims in Uttar Pradesh perceive their identity in relation to the rise of Hindu Nationalism in the region (1947-1992) in “old” and underdeveloped mohallas (ghettos). Consequently it raises issues of historical memory intersecting with mass violence and poverty.  I use a theoretical framework of “border making” to inform this work. In the process, this work also touches upon aspects of class, gender, caste and Sunni-Shia sectarian politics, especially in the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India.

List of Publications

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) | September 30, 2018 | 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

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.
August 2017 – Digital Archives: Cross Border Feminist Solidarity in South Asia. Organized online by Dr. Shilpa Phadke ( TISS, Mumbai) and Dr. Nida Kirmani (Lahore University).
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 Academic Neoliberalism”, 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.
May 2010 – University of Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Catalonia/Spain, “Urban Spaces and the Unwanted Poor – Neoliberal Laws on Spatial Segregation in Modern India.”
2005-2008 - Presented for three consecutive years at the gala annual event of ‘Kaalcharka’ that attracted academics from various colleges of Delhi University and India. The topics I covered were“ Racism in Literature : The Image of the Black Male in Richard Wright’s ‘The Native Son’” and “Colour Me Mad: Re-reading Gericault’s Paintings of the Insane.” The latter was selected and published in the annual History Society magazine of the University of Delhi.
Several Conferences and academic-activist led workshops in Queen’s University: Clio’s Craft (2016), Islamophobia: Global Phenomenon in Local Canadian University Campuses (2017), OPIRG led panel on “ The White Supremacist Connections between Black Lives Matter, Indigenous Stolen Lands and Muslims for Justice through a gender lens”  (2017)

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)
Janet Bilton Award for community welfare from the Ban Righ Centre for Mature Women (2017)

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.