Remembering the Air India Bombing

Undergraduate Research Scholarship project 2020

Department of History

Project academic: Dr Steve Hewitt

Project summary 

The year 2020 marks the 35th anniversary of one of the world’s deadliest terrorist attacks. On 23 June 1985, a bomb destroyed Air India flight 182 off the coast of Ireland killing 329 passengers and crew. A second bomb on another flight killed two baggage handlers in Tokyo. Sikh extremists in Canada planted the bombs in retaliation for atrocities in India against Sikhs the year before.

The police investigation struggled and allegations were made that the Canadian government and public failed to take the biggest mass murder in Canadian history seriously because a majority of the victims were of south Asian heritage. Two public Canadian enquiries followed.

Despite the significance of the attack, with the Air India attack touching upon transnational terrorism and counter-terrorism, air travel and air security, technology, multiculturalism and citizenship, and how we remember and commemorate acts of violence, little academic scholarship exists.   

What you will do  

  • compile short biographies of some of the passengers and crew on the Air India flight and those suspected of being responsible for the attack
  • assist the academic on a research trip to the National Archives at Kew to access relevant records held there
  • help prepare several hundred pages of primary source material from the Library and Archives Canada related to the Air India bombing and its aftermath for its use in an academic publication
  • prepare a bibliography of all relevant published English-language primary and secondary materials related to the Air India attacks
  • co-author with the academic in charge a piece for The Conversation to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the bombings

Skills required 

  • possibly a History or American and Canadian Studies student
  • research and writing skills including knowledge of EndNote

How will the project benefit you?

  • development of research and writing skills including through a trip to the National Archives
  • experience of the process of academic research
  • increased familiarity with software such as EndNote
  • a co-authored piece and thus experience of public engagement and outreach

Where now?


Professional Services