Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair teaches at the University of Michigan. His career has spanned two different fields of science and humanities. He holds doctoral degrees and has held post-doctoral fellowships in the fields of Chemistry and Philosophy/Asian religions. Arvind is a second generation British Sikh who has lived and worked in the USA since 2001. He was educated at King Henry VIII grammar school in the UK. After completing a B.Sc. (1st class Hons.) and Ph.D (1989) in Chemistry and publishing a number of research papers in this field, he worked for several multinationals as a research scientist. In the mid-90’s he changed his academic field to study religion and philosophy and completed an MA (with distinction) followed by a Ph.D in Philosophy (1999) from the University of Warwick. Having specialized in Sikh/South Asian studies and cross cultural philosophy he started his teaching career in the humanities at Coventry University, before taking up a post at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies as a Research Fellow. In 2001 Mandair took up a post as Assistant Professor of Religion and first holder of the S.K.K. Bindra Chair in Sikh studies at Hofstra University, New York. After five years in New York, he served two terms as S.B.S.C. Endowed Chair in Sikh Studies at the University of Michigan.
His earlier book publications include:
Religion and the Specter of the West: Sikhism, India, Postcoloniality and the Politics of Translation (Columbia University Press, 2009);
Sikhism: A Guide For the Perplexed (Bloomsbury 2013);
Secularism and Religion-Making (with Markus Dressler, Oxford 2011);
Teachings of the Sikh Gurus (with Christopher Shackle, Routledge 2005).
He is Editor of Sikhism: Vol. 8 of the Encyclopedia of Indian Religions (Springer 2017).
He has also published numerous articles in journals and book chapters.
Arvind Mandair is founding editor of the Routledge journal Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture and Theory and the book series Routledge Critical Sikh Studies. He also serves on the editorial board of journals such as Culture and Religion, and Religions of South Asia. He is currently finishing two manuscripts: Spiritual Warriors: Violence and Non-Violence in Sikhism (for Cambridge University Press, under review), and Sikh Philosophy and Decolonial Praxis: Diasporic and Intercultural Encounters with Western Thought
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
Arvind-Pal Mandair's research and teaching interests are very wide. The early phase of his research focused on creating intersections between Sikh/South Asian culture and fields such as theory of Religion, Secularism and Religion, Post-colonial Theory, Translation studies, Political theology, Violence and Religion. His current research has broadened to look at three areas. First, a monograph which looks at the study of cross-cultural encounter (especially the encounter between Sikh and Western concepts); this entails moving away from comparative frameworks and translation, instead focusing on ‘encounter’ as an event (rather than phenomenon) with a view to develop new and creative ways in which non-Western concepts can operate in Anglo-Europhone languages. This particular research has implications for the way we think about ‘diaspora’ and theories of integration and interaction between host/foreign cultures, majoritarian/minoritarian cultures. Second, a short monograph that examines the relationship between Violence and Religion, specifically in the context of Sikhism. This study tries to relocate the theory of violence beyond its liberal formulation in opposition to religion, and shows how violence, differently imagined, provides a way of breaking the prohibitions placed on how Western and non-Western concepts, societies and individuals can interact and associate in ways not sanctioned by the State-form. Thirdly, a series of short monographs exploring the intellectual formation that is called: ‘Sikh Philosophy’