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Teaching Dalit Bahujan Utopias: Notes From the Classroom


· Sukumar Narayana University of Delhi (Delhi, India)


07/28 | 11:00-11:20 UTC+2/CEST


The production of knowledge in India operates within a rarefied domain enclosed inside the structures of caste, class and gender. This has enabled the unabashed peddling of one-dimensional epistemology of glorifying the past, justifying the prevalent social hierarchies and manufacturing consent for the existing social order. Periodically, the status quo was interrogated and the resultant debates are secreted within the pages of history. Rarely if ever, these contestations become a part of the pedagogy thereby igniting a quest for a more emancipatory social apparatus.

This is not surprising as the reproduction of the symbolic power needs to be closely guarded. The ancient world considered land as the paramount resource and wars were waged to capture more territories. For the industrialized societies, capital was the source of sustenance but in the modern era, privilege and power based on knowledge is the magic mantra, the currency of socio-economic relations. This paper revolves around the attempts made by the researcher to introduce a full fledged course on Dalit Bahujan Political Thought at the Masters level in Delhi University. This intervention was opposed by the entrenched academia hailing from the privileged castes who wished to perpetuate their Brahmanical utopias. The texts/readings prescribed for the course were sought to be banned by the higher authorities. The pantheon of thinkers who advocated an Indian version of liberation theology was never engaged with at an ideological level. The everyday engagements with the students who joined the course and their interactions in the classrooms provide a multi-layered understanding of negotiating utopias.