The South Asia Initiative

The South Asia Initiative seeks to draw attention to South Asia and South Asian Studies at Case Western Reserve University. It is the mission of South Asia Initiative to encourage scholarly discourse, appreciation and understanding of South Asian cultures and issues.

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Chinnaiah Jangam  April 14, 2011, 4:30 pm, Nord 410, CWRU.

Chinnaiah Jangam is an historian of South Asia who hails from the Telangana region in South India. He studied at the University of Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru University in India and earned his Ph. D. from the Department of History, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London in (2005), where his research focused on the intellectual history of Dalits. He is the recipient of several prestigious awards including Felix Scholarship for doctoral studies and a Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship and has been a post-doctoral fellow at the International Center for Advanced Studies, New York University. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of History at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Before joining Carleton, he taught at Wagner College in New York City. His areas of interest include: Dalits; Nationalism and Decolonization; Modernism and Inequality, Dalit and slave narratives; gender and social memory; caste, Christianity and Dalits. He is working on a book manuscript titled Dalits and Decolonization: Caste and the Politics of Nationalism in South Asia 1900-1950. His current research focuses on the comparative analysis of caste and race and discourses of emancipation.

   

Public Talk  Bonded Souls and Binding Histories:Epistemologies of Caste and Race in the Modern World

      Descent based discrimination existed in most pre-modern societies but parameters of its operations varied and shifted constantly on the basis of social, economic, political and  cultural factors. European enlightenment which ushered in the modern ideas of individualism, equality, democracy and freedom also ironically produced severe forms of discriminations based on race, color, caste, gender and ethnicity which worked against its ethos. The dominant elite (white Europeans and native elites in colonies) used religion, science and eugenics as justification for perpetuation of discrimination and inhuman oppression. One of the devastating effects of oppression based on race and caste is the pulverization of human self to the level of sub humans and branding them as criminals across the globe such as African Americans in North America and untouchables in Indian subcontinent. However, as modern education and ideas seeped into the minds of the pulverized humans they challenged the age old oppression and sought alternative visions to escape from bondage. The remaking of the self through the narration of agony of oppression becomes a potent form of challenge to the oppressors and also a method of weaving visions to emancipate themselves from the oppression based on race and caste.

       While pointing out the contradictions within European modernity, this talk tries to connect the lives and struggles of African Americans who were ironically enslaved by the modern ideas and institutions (material and spiritual) with the untouchable (Dalit) lives and struggles whose enslavement based on caste predated colonial modernity but became entrenched during the high noon of British imperialism. This talk uses selective examples from the life narratives and theoretical interventions of pioneers on the issues of caste and race such as W. E. B. DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Shyam Sunder, Jala Rangaswamy and Kusuma Dharmanna to explore the interconnections between racial discrimination and caste discrimination to weave a theoretical thread binding their lives and aspirations for human dignity and social equality.   

 

Co-Sponsored by The Hallinan Project for Peace and Social Justice, Department of Religious Studies, CWRU Social Justice Institute.

 

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