Policy Leader - Policy Leeds
I am an Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science (PRHS) at the University of Leeds. My research focuses on processes of religious and cultural transmission in the lives of British South Asians, in particular British Sikhs. As part of this I am interested in how different arenas for transmission (for instance religious institutions, families, schools, faith societies and the internet) impact on religious authority and identity.
My CREST funded research on Sikh activism in Britain and the open access resources I produced from this - including a report, media guide and film - enabled me to develop significant links with several government departments and statutory organisations. Through this, I have presented my research to government analysts from various departments including the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the Commission for Countering Extremism. I was also invited by MHCLG to participate in quarterly Sikh Roundtable meetings as one of two academic advisors, which in turn led to engagement with other government departments including the Home Office and the Department of Education.
Having developed a national and international profile as a specialist on Sikhs in diaspora, my expertise has also been called on by statutory bodies including Ofcom to write expert reports on Sikh media and by legal firms dealing with asylum cases relating to Afghan Sikhs. Through this consultancy I identified that the Home Office guidance on Afghan Sikhs was inaccurate and I worked with the Home Office to correct this.
Statutory organisations have also expressed interest in my work leading to presentations at Ofcom and various Police departments among others. The significance of my work has been further demonstrated by an invitation from CREST to present my findings to the Canadian Government and an invitation to 10 Downing Street where I was invited to meet with the Prime Minister and other members of the cabinet to discuss my research. This further led to an invitation from the APPG British Sikhs to present my research at the Houses of Parliament. Since then, I have presented to the APPG Religion in the Media as an expert witness, on the representations of Sikhs in media.
I have also developed innovative methods of community engagement throughout my research, working with a variety of community organisations to present and discuss my findings. The success of this community engagement has led many of these organisations to hold community / policy engagement events, including a Hate Crime and Bullying event organised by the Sikh Alliance Yorkshire in conjunction with MHCLG.
I have also been invited to present on my experiences with policy engagement by the Institute for Government (IfG) at the annual AHRC Engaging with Government course. Through this relationship with the IfG, I was invited to contribute to an AHRC / IfG guide How to engage with policy makers: A guide for academics in the arts and humanities.