KAMAL ARORA /// The ‘Widow Colony’ in Delhi: Female Bodies as Vessels of Remembrance


This conversation is the last one from the series of podcasts recorded on the US/Canadian West Coast. Kamal Arora brings us to Delhi where the research for her dissertation is set. From an introduction about female bodies navigating at risk in the public space, we focus more specifically on one space, called ‘the widow colony.’ The widows are women who saw their husbands killed during the 1984 massacre against the Sikh population consequently from the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Together, we examine how the physicality of this urban village partially determine the politics of its daily organization and its spatiality, and how, the female bodies of the widows are perceived and instrumentalized as vessels of performative remembrance.

Kamal Arora is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Her dissertation focuses on structural violence, gendered religious practice, and everyday affect and memory in the space of a ‘widow colony’ of Sikh women and their families in New Delhi. Her work is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada as well as the University of British Columbia, and she is mentored by Professor Gaston Gordillo (see our conversation). Kamal also currently works as a research assistant for the Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium and Professor Anne Murphy (Asian Studies, UBC), researching Sikhs and pro-social behaviour. From 2010 – 2013, she worked as a researcher for Professor Michael Nijhawan (Sociology, York University) on a three-year study on Sikh and Ahmadiyya diasporas in Canada. In 2013, she guest-edited a special volume of the Sikh Formations journal entitled “Violence, Memory, and the Dynamics of Transnational Youth Formations.” She holds an MA in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies/University of Sussex and has worked in the gender and development field both in Canada and India. She can be contacted at: arorakam [at] interchange.ubc.ca.


– http://ubc.academia.edu/kamalarora


– Kamal Arora and Michael Nijhawan. “Gendered Bodies, Necromantic Aesthetics and Sikh Youth Diasporicity.” in Feminism, Migration and Transnational Practices. Ed: Bonafacio, Glenda. Canadian Scholars Press (Forthcoming).
– Kamal Arora, Duygu Gul, and Michael Nijhawan. “Memory, Violence and Transnational Youth Formations.” Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory 9(3)269-277.
– Kamal Arora and Sophie Voegele. Questioning assumptions of universally applicable social theories: Considerations on women’s empowerment in India. In Indian Women: Issues and Perspectives, Indian Publishers Distributors, 2013.
– Michael Nijhawan and Kamal Arora. “‘Lullabies for Broken Children’: Diasporic Citizenship and the Dissenting Voices of Young Sikhs in Canada.” Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory 9(3) 299-321.
– Sara Ahmed, Affective Economies. Social Text 2004. 22 (2): 117-139.


– Veena Das, Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary, University of California Press, 2007.
– Alan Klima, The Funeral Casino: Meditation, Massacre, and Exchange with the Dead in Thailand, Princeton University Press, 2002.
– Henri Lefebvre,  The Production of Space, Blackwell, 1991.
– Gananath Obeyesekere,  Medusa’s Hair: An Essay on Personal Symbols and Religious Experience, University of Chicago Press, 1981.
– Shilpa Phadke et. al., Why Loiter? Women & Risk on Mumbai Streets, Penguin Books, 2011.


– “The Body and its Rites of Passage: Sikhism and Masculinity in Indian Punjab” with Harjant Gill (February 2014)