Khushdeep Kaur Malhotra

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What are contexts and issues that you work on? How are you using peace education to address these issues? What keeps you going?

The work I do pertains with religious divides in India. At this moment, India is witnessing a resurgence of right wing ideologies such as Hindutva, which have a very narrow and dangerous conception of India as a nation. Through political tactics, brute force and a blatant disregard for India's constitutional values, these ideologues are dismantling the idea and lived experience of India as the world has known it. My work looks at inter-communal (inter-religious) solidarities between Sikhs and Muslims, and through ethnographic evidence, counters these hateful narratives, and challenges these myopic conceptions of being Indian. What gets me through bad situations, ah, that is a tough one. It is peoples' willingness to let me into their lives to share their stories with such honesty, their unbelievable kindness despite facing hardship, that makes me want to tell their stories. I am also grateful to the wonderful network of academic peers and mentors who constantly check on each other, family, friends and my sweet dog!

What has been your most meaningful or noteworthy moment in your peace education career?

Despite the deep divisions that exist in India (religion, caste, gender based), the thing which I have experienced unequivocally everywhere I have worked, is people's willingness to be kind and humane in the worst of situations. Even if they may not have meaningful relationships, in my experience ordinary people almost always step up to help the ones facing persecution/fleeing violence, just out of their humanity. It is these stories that I want to tell.

How and why did you start working in peace education?

As a survivor of political violence (religion related in my case) at a very young age, I grew up under the shadow of it. I wanted to understand what happens to families who face such violence, and how they rebuild their lives after. It took me a while to begin doing this work (I started my PhD at 31), but I think it is what I am meant to be doing.