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Balbir K. Singh

Assistant Professor of Art + Racial Justice, Department of Art History, Concordia University

Canada Research Chair (Tier II, Nominee), Faculty of Fine Arts

PhD, University of Washington – Seattle

Balbir K. Singh is an interdisciplinary scholar trained in cultural theory and ethnic studies. Her work centers the racial, gendered, and sexual politics of embodiment, surveillance, and policing. Using anti-colonial methods of reading and sensing, Singh builds on theories of opacity across two book-length projects. The first, her in-progress manuscript “Militant Bodies: Racial/Religious Opacity and Minoritarian Self-Defense,” takes a materialist feminist approach to explore questions that center post-9/11 racial and religious hyper-policing of Muslim and Sikh bodies. Through a politics of religious dress, hair, and adornment, this project interrogates the related racial, gendered, and queer life of turbaned and hijabi bodies to analyze the twinned expansion of contemporary Islamophobia and surveillance culture. The second book project, “Opacity in Black and Brown: Race, Aesthetics, Anonymity,” will further analyze opacity as essential to a radical politics beyond representation for minoritarian peoples. She teaches courses in Asian and Arab diasporic cultural studies; race, affect, and aesthetics; visual culture and surveillance studies; and the politics of fashion and the body. Currently, she serves as Reviews Editor of Art Journal. Singh has been published in journals including Sikh Formations, Critical Ethnic Studies, QED, Surveillance and Society, Rhizomes, and the Journal of Asian American Studies.

2021     “’Anchorless Unknown’: Affective Annotation and the Komagata Maru Beyond Repair.” Journal of Asian American Studies, 24 (1), Winter 2021.

“Fashion as Armor.” The Fashion and Race Database. Winter 2021.


2020     “‘No Pigs in Paradise’: Speculative Materialism in the Spirit of Black Constellation.” Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, 36, 2020.


2019     “Decoding Dress: Countersurveillance Poetics and Practices Under Permanent War.” Surveillance and Society, 17(5), Special Issue: “Queer Surveillance.” Fall 2019.


2017     “The Commodity Fetish of Modest Fashion.” QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking, 4 (3). Fall 2017.


2016     “Unjust Attachments: Mourning as Antagonism in Gauri Gill’s ‘1984.’” Critical Ethnic Studies, 2 (2). Special Issue: “What Justice Wants.” Fall 2016.


2013     “On the Limits of Charhdi Kala: Oak Creek and Sikh Philosophy in an Age of Terror.” Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory. Taylor & Francis. Fall 2013.