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Surinder Jodhka lectures on Dalit Identity at Stockholm University

February 15, 2013 - 13:00-15:00

The Forum for Asian Studies at Stockholm University invites to a seminar with Surinder S. Jodhka, Professor of Sociology at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and currently Visiting Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Professor at Lund University. He will speak about ”Caste and Democracy: Dalit Identity and Politics of Citizenship”.

Venue: Room F702 (building F, 7th floor), Department of Political Science, Stockholm University at Frescati.

Abstract: Much of the available literature on the political sociology of caste identities and their mobilizations in the larger context of India’s democratic/electoral politics tends to work with an undifferentiated notion of ‘caste’. Caste is primarily viewed as an available ascriptive resource, which the political elite are able to easily mobilize by invoking the collective sentiment. More importantly, the existing formulations on ‘caste and politics’ have primarily been drawn from the experience of the so-called middle level, landowning “dominant” castes and their experience of politicization.

Against this undifferentiated notion of caste politics, Prof. Jodhka would suggest that beyond the apparent similarities, the content and quality of politics vary significantly depending upon who is mobilizing her/his caste.

Drawing inferences from three case studies of caste related conflicts and Dalit assertions in contemporary rural Punjab, he will try to argue that historically, the politicization of caste identities have followed a variety of trajectories. The experience of being a member of a Dalit caste, for example, is very different from that of being a member of an “upper” or dominant caste. Such a differentiated notion of caste would offer us a more nuanced and richer perspective on the complex relationship of ‘caste’ with the democratic and electoral politics in contemporary India.

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Surinder Jodhka lectures on Dalit Identity at Stockholm University


February 15, 2013