Readings For An Anti-Caste Education
Words by Sukhnidh Kaur
October 04, 2020
We are the people..we are the nation- Our Emotion Dried up Our Words by Balaji Ponna
India is experiencing profound grief in light of a crumbling economy, political suppression, and the widening of existing inequalities. One finds, yet again, that at the root of this violence is the pervasiveness of casteism. Today, as the country protests the rape and murder of Dalit women and the systems that have led to it, it is important to reflect on the rotten spirit of casteism that infects us.
To my fellow caste-privileged allies: This month, we might attend marches, proclaim allyship on social media, and write about the Hathras incident as if it takes death to jolt us into action (and as if caste-based sexual violence has only now been given impunity). We may condemn physical caste-based atrocities, the government's inefficiency, and sometimes even our families – and yet seldom reflect on our own role in inflicting social violence.
Caste is here – in our socialization, codified in the structures and norms that surround us, perpetuated by our ways of life. It is so present in our everyday rigmarole that we have simply normalised it, convinced that we are “good” by virtue of our words. By functioning within the status quo, we have already failed the imagination of the Indian democracy.
Even acknowledging privilege is to be taken with a pinch of salt. Andrea White writes about how such confessions rarely lead to political projects aimed at dismantling the structures of domination that enabled said privilege. Rather, the confessions become the political project themselves, their benefits being ephemeral.
Our duty today is to direct anti-caste education and practices toward ourselves. The intent, as Dr. Ambedkar said, is to annihilate caste - both within and outside of ourselves. Kiruba Munusamy, advocate at the Supreme Court of India, tweets about how instead of stringent new laws, democratic change can only be brought by structural reforms through proportional representation.
Such education requires time, persistence, and listening, which is in many ways the opposite of our flitting on social media each time a hashtag trends.
The eighth edition of Akademi Mag's Love, Pavemented collates a few anti-caste readings from Dalit and Bahujan activists and leaders.
How Can I Be An Ally?
Smashboard recently shared an Instagram post on how to be an anti-caste feminist when you have caste privilege, which included lessons on forming coalitions with Dalit feminists, not butting in when two Dalit feminists are in disagreement, and acknowledging caste privilege. Read the whole post here.
Also, read Caste Privilege 101: A Primer for the Privileged, where Thenmozhi Soundararajan and Sinthujan Varatharajah write about the migration of caste, its existence in the diaspora, and its structural and generational nature. It also includes a sample of social locating questions for the purpose of self-examination.
Where can I access the works of
Dr. Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar?
Dr. Ambedkar's Philosophy of Hinduism, which answers fundamental questions about whether Hinduism recognizes equality and fraternity. Free PDF.
Dr. Ambedkar's Essays on Untouchables and Untouchability through religious, political and social lenses.
Translations of Dr. Ambedkar's works in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, or Kannada, offered by Velivada.
Dr. Ambedkar's collected writings and speeches, offered by ambedkar.org.
Land and dominance by Randeep Maddoke
There was myth that land is a mother of the peasantry, actually it’s a commodity, a tool to maintain dominant status to caste repression marginalising agricultural labourers in India. In the times of industrialisation/capitalism, agricultural land relationships are changing as peasants their relationship with land and their status
The collected works of Periyar, compiled by Dr. K. Veeramani. In the first few pages, you can learn about who Periyar was, his life's trajectory, and work.
Dr. Anand Teltumbde's The Persistence of Caste. Free PDF.
Kancha Ilaiah's Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism, which outlines the role of caste and religion in socio-spiritual systems. Free PDF.
Kancha Ilaiah's Why I Am Not a Hindu: A Sudra Critique of Hindutva Philosophy, Culture, and Political Economy. Free PDF.
Anti-Caste Climate Justice
Here's a comprehensive YouTube playlist of videos and documentaries that help us understand why India needs anti-caste climate justice. Thanks to Sriranjini Raman for compiling this. Follow her on Instagram.
Women and Trans Writing
Read Christina Thomas Dhanaraj's works:
Read Shivani Waldekar's:
Ash Blanket cover on his own way by Naresh Suna
Naresh looks into incidents in his region where whole settlements of ‘lower’ caste communities of a village were burned and destroyed. Their livelihoods, food, clothes, shelter but also their identities, dreams and future turned into ashes.
Here at Akademi Mag we hope to create space for voices that are otherwise erased, obscured or censored. If you would like to publish or work with us, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help, support and encourage you the best we can.
Further Reading on Akademi Mag
'We Must Call It What It Is: Caste-Based Violence' by Jyotsna Siddharth
'Guruswamy and Katju, Your rainbow doesn't hide your casteism'. The Story of a Movement: the Law, the Leaders, the Lies, by Akhil Kang and Vqueeram Aditya Sahai
'External independence is quite compatible with internal slavery' compiled and written by Durgesh Solanki and Rajyashri Goody
'NEP 2020: Towards and Old Horizon' by Sankul Sonawane
Artwork from Broken Foot – Unfolding Inequalities Exhibition
‘Broken Foot – Unfolding inequalities’ is a curatorial fundraiser exhibit curated by Prabhakar Kamble & Rumi Samadhan. It is Artists United Collective’s first online exhibition project and fundraiser. The sixty participating artists collectively raise a voice through their various forms of dissent – as projections of subjects representing as well as interrelating the context of ‘Labour’ and ‘Nation’.
10th July- 10th October, 2020.