Three PhD students and their Director of Studies will be presenting at the 18th Annual Conference of the European Association for the Study of Religions (EASR) on their first ever Sikh studies panel. The conference will take place in Pisa between 30 August and 3 September 2021 after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Narinder Kaur, Supreet Uppal and Avneet Hunjan are all students of the School of Humanities’s Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies.

Narinder is working towards a doctorate in Sikh musicology, Supreet is exploring Sikhs’ perceptions, attitudes and barriers in accessing professional mental well-being help, while Avneet is looking into the relationship between alcohol and the Panjabi Sikh community.

“At this critical time in human history, where religion and faith are questioned in moments of private and collective crisis,” said Narinder, “the EASR conference this year is on the theme of resilient religion. 

“For Sikhs, their way of life, Sikhi, is rooted in the spiritual devotional realm of the everyday, yet intimately expands into the politics of change and social justice. The inclusion of a Sikh panel to the conference offers an opportunity to share from experience, faith as an active anchoring in love and compassion that emanates into standing in global solidarity with others who speak truth to power.”

Narinder’s presentation for the EASR Annual Conference is entitled: ‘Stay at Home Reflexivity and Adaptation of Sikh Worship during a Pandemic’. Avneet added: "I'm delighted to be a part of the first Sikh panel at the EASR. I look forward to sharing my research at the conference and also seeing what developments are being made in international Sikh Studies. Thanks to Opinderjit for supporting our applications."

At the conference, Avneet will present: ‘Alcohol and Gender in the Midlands Panjabi Sikh community’. Supreet, who will be presenting the talk ‘Accessing the Impact of Covid-19: Religious Coping Strategies on Sikhs’ Mental Well-being within the United Kingdom’, said: “I am a PhD student who has explored Sikhs’ perceptions, attitudes and barriers in accessing professional help in relation to mental well-being within the UK.

“Due to the lack of literature on the Sikh community within the UK, the South Asian community was explored. It is an absolute honour to be involved in the panel and to be presenting on this unique momentous occasion within the EASR.”

Dr Opinderjit Kaur Takhar MBE, Director of Studies for the PhD students and Director of Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies said: “I'm delighted that the abstracts of the three PhD students have been accepted for this prestigious international conference. 

“This is the first time ever that the European Association for the Study of Religions is having a panel on Sikh Studies. To be presenting on this momentous occasion is a fantastic opportunity for the students to strengthen their profiles, as well as that of the Centre for Sikh and Panjabi Studies at the University of Wolverhampton. 

“I'm extremely proud of the hard work and dedication that the students have put into their research, despite the challenging circumstances caused by the pandemic.” Dr Takhar will also be presenting at the conference. Her presentation is entitled: ‘The Role of Sikh Institutions and Organisations during the Pandemic in the United Kingdom’.