Upcoming Monograph on Periyar

MSCA Fellow Karthick Ram Manoharan’s monograph Periyar: A Study in Political Atheism will be published by Orient BlackSwan in early 2022. This is a research output of the EU H2020 project “Freedom from Caste: The Political Thought of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy in a Global Context”.

Orient BlackSwan announced the publication of the book on 24 December 2021, Periyar’s Remembrance Day. Manoharan, who was a guest speaker at an event organized by the Dravidian Professionals’ Forum on that day, shared the happy news and discussed some of the themes that he was covering in this book. A pre-publication discussion of the book was organized at the University of Nottingham on 17 November 2021, with the philosopher Ian James Kidd as the discussant.

Abstract of the book below:

Periyar E.V. Ramasamy (1879-1973) was a rationalist anti-caste leader from South India. Known for his critical views on caste, nationalism, gender, and social justice, he earned a controversial reputation in his lifetime and after for his views on religion. Criticized by his opponents for being a ‘crude atheist’, Periyar’s critique of religion however was not a simple rejection of god, but a critique of political theology. In this book, Manoharan discusses Periyar’s controversial, sometimes contradictory, but overall nuanced approach to religion, and explores how his criticisms of religion were fundamentally rooted in an opposition to hierarchical social power and a concern for social justice. Manoharan reads Periyar in the anarchist tradition, drawing comparisons with the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, to consider how Periyar was critical of both divine and secular power. With an elaborate introduction that places Periyar in historical and intellectual context, the other chapters discuss Periyar’s political atheism, his approach to Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Marxism, and concludes with a discussion of his relevance for contemporary debates on secularism and post-secularism.

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