CFP – Special Issue of CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion

Freedom from Caste: The anti-caste thought of Ambedkar, Periyar and Others

Guest Edited by Meena Dhanda and Karthick Ram Manoharan

We invite academic papers for a special issue of CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion (J-Caste)focusing on the anti-caste thought of important theorists, thinkers and movements from South Asia. In recent scholarship, new critical works have engaged extensively with the writings of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar but Periyar E.V. Ramasamy, the iconoclastic anti-caste leader from the state of Tamil Nadu and a central figure in Dravidian politics, has only of late attracted increased academic engagement. Likewise, the anti-caste thought of Phule, from the state of Maharashtra, amongst several other contributions to anti-caste thought from political leaders, social reformers, writers, novelists and poets, has made considerable impact on the discourse around caste in South Asia. We aim in this special issue to bring their thought into conversation to develop a deeper understanding of radical humanism incipient in anti-caste thinking. We seek to understand the meaning of freedom from caste in its fullest sense.

The following themes are indicative suggestions for lines of enquiry that may be extended along other related themes by potential contributors.

  • A new and critical approach to the thought of well-known anti-caste thinkers like Phule, Ambedkar and Periyar.
  • An exploration of lesser-known anti-caste thinkers especially from the ‘regions’ and marginalized communities in South Asia, e.g., Giani Ditt Singh and Sahodaran Ayyappan.
  • A discussion of anti-caste themes in cinema, literature, and poetry.
  • A study of how anti-caste thought informs social and political movements and vice-versa.
  • A discussion of how left, feminist and ecological movements have dealt with caste.
  • A critique of the impact of religion on the anti-caste discourse, its possibilities and limitations, including, but not limited to, discussions on conversions, Hindu reform movements, the neo-Buddhist movement, modern Sikhi, Islam and the Pasmanda question, and the work of Christian missionaries.
  • A critical perspective on the emergence of new debates on anti-caste theory and practice.

The special issue aims to consider these questions from a variety of perspectives. Contributors are encouraged to offer analyses of anti-caste thinkers and their thought from the perspective of cultural theory, sociology, linguistics, history, political theory, area studies, or philosophy.

We specifically welcome interdisciplinary papers. We are interested in discussion of anti-caste thinking in the full range of South Asian countries, including, Bangladesh, Burma, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and the regions where South Asian diaspora has travelled. 

Please send a paper title and a 450-500 word abstract of your proposed paper by 16 April 2021 to castefree@wlv.ac.uk. Contributors will be informed by 30 April 2021 if their proposals are accepted for consideration and they will be invited to submit full papers (5000-8000 words) for blind review by 1 Nov 2021. All dates are final. Following reviews, the accepted papers will be published in the April 2022 special issue of J-Caste.

This special issue of J-Caste will be jointly edited by Prof. Meena Dhanda (University of Wolverhampton) and Dr. Karthick Ram Manoharan (University of Wolverhampton), linked to the project Freedom from Caste: The Political Thought of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy in a Global Context which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 895514.

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