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Anti-Caste Thought: Theory, Politics, and Culture

October 29, 2021 @ 1:00 am October 30, 2021 @ 9:00 am PDT

“Anti-Caste Thought: Theory, Politics and Culture”

About this event

Join the uUniversity for Wolverhampton for a two-day online conference organized at the University of Wolverhampton on 29th and 30th October 2021 as a part of the EU Horizon 2020 project Freedom From Caste: The Political Thought of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy in a Global Context.

The speakers at this conference will engage with a variety of thinkers who have contributed to anti-caste thought – as theorists, political leaders, social reformers, writers, activists, artists, novelists and poets – over 6 panels on culture, spatiality, institutions, religion, anti-caste thinkers, and theory. This academic event will present new exciting research on anti-caste thought, and seeks to stimulate global critical conversations on caste studies and anti-casteism.


All times are in British Summer Time (UTC+1)


9.15 [BST] Welcome Address – Karthick Ram Manoharan

Each panel will be an hour and half long. There will be 15 minutes for each paper presentation and 5 minutes for comments from the chair, on each individual paper. There will be 30 minutes for Q&A at the end of the panel.

9.30 – 11.00 [BST] PANEL 1: Caste and Culture

Chair: Selvaraj Velayutham

• Sunidhi Pacharne – The Gendered Politics of Caste in Indian Cinema: Interrogating the Sexual Impurity of Dalit Women

• Drishadwati Bargi – Revolution, in the mirror of love: Facing the “Failures” in Malika Amar Shaikh’s memoir I Want to Destroy Myself

• Swarnavel Eswaran – Caste: Cinema and Spatiality

11.00 – 11.30 [BST] – BREAK

11.30 – 13.00 [BST] PANEL 2: Caste, Nation and Spatiality

Chair: Malini Ranganathan

• Shrinidhi Narasimhan – Place-making from the Margins: Asia in the Tamil Buddhist Imagination

• Ganeshwar B – Periyar’s Spatial Thought: Region as Non-Brahmin Discursive Space

• Anish KK – Conceptions of Community, Nation and Politics: The Ezhavas of South Malabar and their Quest of Equality

13.00 – 13.30 [BST] – BREAK

13.30 – 14.45 [BST] PANEL 3: Caste and Institutions

Chair: Gaurav J Pathania

• S. Sakthi – What’s in a (‘Fancy’) Name? The Many Faces of Caste in Chennai’s Information Technology Industry

• Jentle Varghese – Militancy, Radical Democracy and Constitutionalism: Ayyankali and the Dalit Assertion in Colonial Travancore

14.45 – 15.30 [BST] – BREAK

15.30 – 17.00 [BST] – Book discussion of B.R. Ambedkar: The Quest for Justice, 5 Vols. (OUP 2021) with Aakash Singh Rathore (Editor), Kancha Ilaiah, Kanchana Mahadevan and Matthew Baxter, hosted by Meena Dhanda.


9.30 – 10.30 [BST] – Keynote Lecture – AR Venkatachalapathy – Denying and Defying Power: Periyar’s Approach to Politics

10.30 – 11.00 [BST] – BREAK

11.00 – 12.30 [BST] – PANEL 4: Caste and Religions

Chair: Gajendran Ayyathurai

• M Danish Iqbal – Caste and Muslims in Contemporary India: A ‘relational’ account

• Dhivya Sivaramane – Repudiating Religion, God and Caste: Self-respecting Social Radicalism and Rationalism of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy

• Nidhin Donald – Ambedkar as a Sociologist of Indian Christianity

12.30 – 13.00 [BST] – BREAK

13.00 – 14.30 [BST] – PANEL 5: Anti-Caste Thinkers

Chair: Dag Erik Berg

• Mahitosh Mandal – Dalit Resistance in Times of Bengal Renaissance: Five Untouchable Thinker-Reformers from Colonial Bengal

• Vignesh Karthik KR and Vishal Vasanthakumar – Beyond Anti-Caste Activism: A Periyarist Gaze at Social Justice

• Prem Ram MR – A discourse on communication between Iyothee Thass and Periyar: Possibilities of transgressing Caste equations

14.30 – 15.00 [BST] – BREAK

15.00 – 16.30 [BST] – PANEL 6: Anti-Caste Theory

Chair: Scott Stroud

• Uday Yerramadasu – A Veritable Chamber of Horrors: The Annihilation of Caste as a Theodicy on Responsibility

• Sitharthan Sriharan – Universalism as Foundational to the Critique of Caste: Towards a Comparative Reading of Ambedkar and Hegel

• Jadumani Mahanand – Ambedkar’s Anti-Caste Philosophy as Democratic Theory

16.30 – 17.00 [BST] – Concluding Address by Meena Dhanda

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 895514.

For any questions please email:

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