a few words about

my research & work

I am a public academic and scholar-activist studying International & Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto, and have additional training in gender equality & sexual diversity; reconciliation through indigenous education; global citizenship; and human rights and development. My research is framed through a postcolonial feminist and transnational intersectionality frame, in which I attend to oppressive fabrics at the entanglement of race, gender, space, and class relations. Currently, I hold myself accountable in understanding the ways systematic state-sanctioned violence is curated, normalized, legitimized, and authorized via multiple forms of oppression at the nexus of colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy.

current research
projects

This research project is situated at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, and is funded by the Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth. I have been engaged in the analysis of Women’s Police Stations in India, and the mechanisms through which they increase reporting of sexual violence, domestic abuse, and other gendered human rights abuses. The question of the project is focused on—how do we reach and provide justice to populations who are not physically disengaged, but are culturally, socially, and domestically disengaged from protective infrastructure?

Quantitative and qualitative research project with the goal to understand, analyze, and map out the different tools of oppression throughout history from a sociological, feminist, and political perspective; with the aim of teasing out the practical similarities and differences, as well as theoretical and conceptual frames through which oppression manifests itself, such as modern states, social norms, “common sense”, power relations, education infrastructure, and police/legal institutions at the Centre for Critical Development Studies, University of Toronto Scarborough.

Analysis of the mechanisms through which the “Real World of Technology” has shaped current understandings of the positive and negative externalities that technology presents in development; and the processes through which technology is reproduced in contemporary understandings of surveillance capitalism and feminist techno-science literature; through the Faculty of Information at UofT and the McLuhan Centre for Culture & Technology.

Partnering with the Digital Fabrication Laboratory and ITESO’s Center for High Impact Social Innovation (CISAI) in Mexico to understand the multiple axis through which violence permeates and imbues within the social cycle and lifetime of youth in Guadalajara; particular focus is on cartel violence in the region of Jalisco. Key deliverables of the project include: (i) research the state of social networks and activity hubs in fostering community engagement in the FabLab; (ii) research mechanisms for social network optimization to better reach those most vulnerable in the surrounding community; (iii) assist in developing a social network optimization campaign; and (iv) continue developing metrics to calculate the costs to reach the hardest to reach.

My focus as a feminist oral historian is on spatializing intersectionality and gauging an understanding of how the body is both a site for which multiple oppressions merge and collide, and a location to archive & document women’s history through storytelling. This project has focused on understanding survival as resistance, everyday forms of protest, and embodied forms of knowledge and knowers. Oral histories have been conducted in North America, Latin America, Middle East, and South East Asia; currently executing, preserving & archiving women’s stories. If you would like to be a part of this project and have your oral history archived, please connect with me: kanishka.sikri@mail.utoronto.ca

research
expertise/engagements

I aim to entangle the power of stories as both a site for women to historicize and archive our histories in spaces—physical, social, and economic—we are traditionally denied entry; and a location to subjectify our lives as marked positively by emotion, materiality, and lived reality in the midst of  “objective” chronicled histories. In such discursive and physical space, oral storytelling gives us the praxis to both transform the ways in which we can locate lived intersectional demarcations, and re-configure the legitimacy given to women’s histories, stories, and lives. Utilizing oral histories as this qualitative research and knowledge production mechanism, I work to consider the ways violence, policing, punishment, and discipline permeate women’s lives both outside but especially within the household, as well as how we can understand the invisibilization, concealment, and informalization of gendered housework and domestic labour. By painting such a landscape of women’s multidimensional experience within the household, I demonstrate how we can both contextualize, localize, subjectify and simultaneously universalize, realize, and spatialize lived histories.

Symbolic violence in media is a deliberate manufacturing tool in logical line with an illegitimate and oppressive system which mandates consequential physical violence. Physical violence against women—a mere embodiment of current social fabrics and relations—cannot be dismantled without the deliberate restructuring of media—symbolic narratives—and consumption patterns—physical narratives—which govern our day to day existence. I attend to understand, capture, and explain how pornographic and carnal representations of women in media—symbolic violence—both prescribes the legitimacy and normalization that allows for physical violence against women to occur in “real” space and concurrently reproduces the physical demands of the real world’s violence.

We live in a world where there are more slaves than ever before. Examining the ways prison systems and modern-day slavery are state-initiated and state-sanctioned, I make visible how we can understand black and brown violability, and the ways such bodies are policed, disciplined, and punished routinely both in public and private space. Utilizing a blend of anti-racist and feminist studies, I examine the need for abolition and what that looks like within a patriarchal and white-supremacist society such as ours.

Being fat in public spheres is a weird space of being. I am simultaneously hyper-visible, but invisible. I exist as both stared at, pondered, investigated, defined but also ignored, discounted, and passed over. I exist in this space of public perceptions I had no say over. Utilizing a critical frame, I examine the way body image, fatness, beauty, and femininity is characterized, surveilled, policed, disciplined, and punished in different spaces. Entangling feminist studies here with classist interrogation, decolonial attitudes, anti-capitalist and anti-racist thought, I intertwine beauty in these seemingly unrelated categories to make salient the ways women’s bodies have historically and currently been disciplined.

I grasp that sex work is an ideal form of labour within a neoliberal capitalist market since it satisfies the commodification of certain bodies performing certain labour. Sex work is then the best opportunity for women to gain access to wealth and change their class position within an economy that devalues everything, including the reproductive and sexual ability of their bodies. Women’s bodies then become synonymous and mere substitutes for cash and other economic goods. We can simutenously grasp the preceeding of class mobility as real, felt, and experienced, and realize that such work reduces sex workers to commodities who should feel empowered in the dehumanization of their bodies. I nor prescribe sex work as legitimate in a free, just, liberated society nor do I ascribe to the idea that sex work should be isolated from other forms of oppressive labour in an illegitimate system as our current. Forced work in plantations is oppressive. Working in sweatshops is oppressive. Working a job where you cannot meet your sustenance needs is oppressive. Sex work is a logical process that evolves out of a colonial capitalist supremacist patriarchy. While sex work is legitimate in this system, the question then becomes—do we want it to be? And, if we do not, how do we change the system(s) that prescribe its legitimacy?

We live in a system of power relations and oppressor/oppressed dynamics. These power and relational dynamics are exercised through and by adherence to the logic of our colonial capitalist supremacist patriarchy; injustices, inequalities, and exploitation expand as processes out of this system. These technologies (processes) of oppression refer to the manifestation of power relations and hierarchies of superordinate/subordinates in everyday social systems including but not limited to, modern states, social norms, “common sense”, education infrastructure, media representations/symbolic discourse, and police/legal institutions. In this regard, the processes of oppression—technology, surveillance, policing, discipline, violence—have flowed, moved, and been manipulated for the different social and political climates they are expressed in. The preceding surveillance and technologies of oppression are changing even when the systems of oppression have stayed in tact. This system—colonial capitalist supremacist patriarchy—determines a social order which then changes over time as there are technological improvements, migration and transnational developments, and infrastructure and institutional changes, thus determining different social processes. Our social order is then a racist colonial capitalist patriarchal one because it is based on a colonial capitalist supremacist patriarchal system.