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B. R. Ambedkar in/and America: A Reflection on Caste and Comparison

in partnership with the South Asia Center and the Dept. of History, and Dept. of South Asia Studies

Anupama Rao
Professor of History, Barnard College and Columbia University.
Thursday, April 11, 2024 - 12:00
Center for the Advanced Study of India Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science & Economics 133 South 36th Street, Suite 230 Philadelphia PA 19104-6215

About the Seminar:
Ambedkar in America is an exploration of the relationship between archive, imagination, and figurations of B. R. Ambedkar in his time and ours. Taking up the specific problem of the relationship between space and thought, and interwar thought about "the social," in particular, this seminar will consider forms of refusal and practices of insurgence that define and distinguish Dalit thought as a genre of political thought bound together by a set of thematic preoccupations including: the historicity of caste, the operation of Brahminism, caste poverty, and the itineraries of Dalit emancipation. Professor Rao will structure her presentation as an exploration of Dalit thinking as it unfolds at the intersection of the word and the world, the city (New York) and the University (Columbia) in order to consider the relationship between disciplinary formation, emergent social analytics, and (social) life.

About the Speaker:
Anupama Rao is a Professor of History at Barnard College and Columbia University. She is the Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and the convener of the Ambedkar Initiative at Columbia. For a decade, she served as the Senior Editor of Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Her research interests include gender and sexuality studies, caste and race, historical anthropology, social theory, comparative urbanism, and colonial genealogies of human rights and humanitarianism. Her publications include The Caste Question (University of California Press, 2009) and The Many Worlds of R. B. More: Memoir of a Dalit Communist, with Wandana Sonalkar (Leftword, 2019), and the edited volume Gender, Caste, and the Imagination of Equality (Women Unlimited, 2017). She is currently completing a volume called Ambedkar in America: Reading Castes in India and working on a set of essays on the political thought of B. R. Ambedkar.

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