work phone: 6048225185

Anne Murphy is Associate Professor and Chair of Punjabi Language, Literature, and Sikh Studies at the University of British Columbia. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University’s Department of Religion and her Master’s degree in Asian Languages and Literature from the University of Washington. She previously taught in the Religious Studies and Historical Studies Concentrations at The New School in New York City.

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Dr. Murphy’s research interests focus on the historical formation of religious communities in Punjab and northern South Asia, with particular but not exclusive attention to the Sikh tradition. Her monograph, The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition, was published by Oxford University Press in October 2012. The book explores the construction of Sikh memory and historical consciousness around material representations and religious sites from the eighteenth century to the present. She edited a thematically related book on historical representation in South Asia that was published in 2011. Current research interests concern the formations of modern Punjabi literature, and particularly the articulation of the secular within it, for which she received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant in 2013, and the historical formations of social service or “seva” as an expression of ethical life within Sikh tradition. She conducted research on the latter topic as a Senior Fellow with the American Institute of Indian Studies in 2009-2010, and received a grant for the project from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in 2010. Dr. Murphy recently instituted a new oral history program in the third-year Punjabi program that is being extended onto the fourth-year level, and teaches classes on the history of Sikh and other religious traditions in South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora, Punjabi language and literature, and South Asian cultural history.

The centenary of the Komagata Maru incident was commemorated at UBC through a project led by Dr. Murphy; for more information see:

Selected publications:

  1. The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
  2. “The gurbilas literature and the idea of ‘religion’” in The Punjab Reader, edited by Anshu Malhotra and Farina Mir (New York and New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2012), 93-115.
  3. “The Specter of Violence in Sikh Pasts,” in Teaching Religion and Violence, edited by Brian Pennington (New York: Oxford University Press and the AAR, 2012), 149-163.
  4. Editor, Time, History, and the Religious Imaginary in South Asia (Routledge, 2011). Includes work by: Aparna Balachandran (Delhi University), Varuni Bhatia (Michigan), Nicolas Dejenne (Sorbonne), Purnima Dhavan (University of Washington), James Hare (Columbia University), James Hegarty (Cardiff), Rajeev Kinra (Northwestern), Arvind-pal Singh Mandair (Michigan), Rastin Mehri (SOAS), Christian Novetzke (University of Washington), and Teena Purohit (Boston University), as well as my introductory essay.
  5. “Objects, ethics, and the gendering of Sikh memory” in Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal 4 (2009): 161-168. Part of an interdisciplinary forum on “Early Modern Women and Material Culture.”
  6. “The Guru’s Weapons,” in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion (June 2009).
  7. Guest editor for issue of Sikh Formations (December 2007); topic: “Time and history.” Contributors include: Purnima Dhavan (University of Washington), James Hare (Columbia University), Christian Novetzke (University of Washington), Teena Purohit (Columbia University), Rajeev Kinra (Northwestern).
  8. “History in the Sikh Past,” in History and Theory (October 2007).
  9. “Materializing Sikh Pasts,” in Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory (December 2005).
  10. Translations of selected poems of the 15th century saint Ravidas, in Untouchable Saints: An Indian Phenomenon, edited by Eleanor Zelliot and Rohini Mokashi-Punekar (Delhi: Manohar, 2004).
  11. “Mobilizing seva (Service): Modes of Sikh diasporic action,” in South Asians in the Diaspora: Histories and Religious Traditions, edited by Knut Axel Jacobsen and Pratap Kumar (Leiden: Brill, 2004).
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