- “Anti-Casteist Casteism? A Fanonist Critique of Ramasamy’s Discourse on Caste.” Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 19:1, 73-90. 2017. Published Online on 11 February 2016.
This was my first full-length academic article. Here, I provide a Fanonist critique of Periyar’s anti-caste thought. This article was accepted for publication when I was a PhD student at the University of Essex and is based on a chapter from my PhD thesis. This is an innovative attempt to look at anti-caste politics from a Fanonist theoretical framework. My research on Periyar has significantly advanced since then, but my fundamental concerns on the tensions between the particular and the universal remain.
- Frantz Fanon: Identity and Resistance. Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan. 2019.
My PhD thesis evolved into this monograph which was published in the Literary/Cultural Theory series at Orient BlackSwan. Frantz Fanon engages with the challenges of reading Fanon today and stresses on the relevance of his ideas in analysing contemporary politics and culture. It uses Fanonian perspectives to critique the Negritude movement, Periyar’s anti-caste movement in Tamil Nadu, the Kurdish struggle in the Middle East, and contemporary multiculturalism, arguing for a politics of ‘expansive identity’ and a new universalism. This book has endorsements from the philosophers Meena Dhanda and Peter Hudis.
- “Towards a Žižekian Critique of the Indian Ideology.” International Journal of Žižek Studies, Vol. 13 No. 2, 1-22. 2019.
This article was a contribution to the special issue “What Went Wrong With Žižek?” as a defense of the Slovenian philosopher. I have been fascinated with Žižek’s radically provocative approach to philosophy and cultural theory since the second year of my MA. Also, the fact that he cited my film review of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises in his books Trouble in Paradise (2014) and Agitating the Frame (2014) made me like him more. In this article, I try to frame a critique of the Indian Ideology (and Perry Anderson’s eponymous book) through an engagement with Ambedkar, Periyar and Žižek.
- “Freedom from God: Periyar and Religion.” Religions, 11(1): 10. For Special Issue on Dalits and Religion: Ambiguity, Tension, Diversity and Vitality. Eds. Cosimo Zene and Meena Dhanda. 2020. Published Online on 24 December 2019.
This article looks at Periyar’s approach to religion. Periyar saw Hinduism as a fundamental degradation of the non-Brahmin community in general, the Dalits in particular. Here, I draw parallels between Periyar and Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, especially with regards to their radical readings of religion and social power. This has to be my most popular article till date. On 30 December 2021, it crossed 10000 views.
- Rethinking Social Justice. Eds. S. Anandhi, Karthick Ram Manoharan, M. Vijayabaskar, A. Kalaiyarasan. Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan. 2020.
This edited volume brings together perspectives from across disciplines to rethink the question of social justice, in the process opening up a view of the panorama of Indian politics, with essays addressing issues of social history, caste, identity, nationalism, gender, region, urban planning and cinema. The volume was a Festschrift for M.S.S. Pandian, with a foreword from Partha Chatterjee, and was endorsed by John Harriss and Anand Pandian.
- “An Ethic beyond Anti-Colonialism: A Periyarist Engagement with Fanonism.” In Rethinking Social Justice. Eds. S. Anandhi, Karthick Ram Manoharan, M. Vijayabaskar, and A. Kalaiyarasan. Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan, 159-178. 2020.
In this chapter, I critically approach anti-colonial nationalism, and Fanon’s (qualified) support of the same, using a Periyarist theoretical framework. I address how Periyar’s nuanced approach to nationalism stepped beyond colonial/anti-colonial, insider/outsider binaries. In his review of Rethinking Social Justice, John Harriss calls my chapter “a fascinating critique of Fanon’s ideas through comparison with Periyar”.
- “In the Path of Ambedkar: Periyar and the Dalit Question.” South Asian History and Culture, 11:2, 136-149. 2020. Published Online on 17 April 2020.
As of now, I would rate this as my best academic article. It extensively uses primary material of Periyar to show his high regard for Ambedkar and to make a case that Dalit empowerment and liberation were central in his political imagination. I challenge readings by few academics who have claimed that Periyar ignored Ambedkar and that the Dalit question did not figure much in his politics. Through my research for this article, I learnt that Periyar’s support for the Dalits ran much deeper in his works than what I had earlier thought.
- “Understanding the Ideological Nature of Caste Violence in Tamil Nadu: Particularism and Universalism.” In Social Hegemony in Contemporary India. Ed. R. Thirunavukkarasu. Sage. 2021.
This chapter is an outcome of my paper on “Understanding Caste Violence in Tamil Nadu” at the 2016 UGC-SAP National Seminar on Elusive Equality: Mapping Social Hegemony in India, University of Hyderabad. In this chapter, through a discussion of Balaji Sakthivel’s film Kaadhal (2004), I attempt to understand the “ideology” framing caste violence in Tamil Nadu, and why an universalist perspective is necessary to effectively challenge it.
- “Being Dalit, Being Tamil: The Politics of Kabali and Kaala.” In Tamil Cinema in the 21st Century: Politics, Genre and Technology. Eds. Selvaraj Velayutham and Vijay Devadas. Routledge. 2021.
This article is a discussion of the politics of P. Ranjith’s films Kabali (2016) and Kaala (2018). I argue that Ranjith’s films are informed by an alternative progressive Tamil nationalism and a radical politics of social justice. I discuss how Ranjith negotiates and reimagines the identities of ‘Dalit’ and ‘Tamil’, through a paradigm of social justice that engages with Tamil nationalism, Dravidianism, and anti-caste thought.
- “Radical freedom: Periyar and Women.” [version 1; peer review: 2 approved, 1 approved with reservations]. Open Research Europe 2021, 1:6. 2021. Published Online on 24 March 2021.
This paper compares Periyar’s thoughts with Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex and highlights the similarities in their approach to women’s liberation and sexual freedom, especially their critique of child-rearing and child-bearing. Periyar was not just an advocate of social and economic equality between the sexes but espoused a radical concept of sexual freedom for women, which is central to his concept of liberty as such. The paper explores Periyar’s booklet Women Enslaved in detail and engages with lesser known, new primary material of Periyar on the women’s question.
- “Is this a Sudra Critique? Periyar and the Intermediate Castes.” Working Papers of the Chicago Tamil Forum – Caste and Community in Modern Tamilagam (May 13–15, 2021). Version 6.1.2021.
I had a great time participating in this rigorous workshop organized by the Chicago Tamil Forum (University of Chicago). I received fantastic feedback on this paper and I hope to develop it into something larger. This paper challenges misconceptions on Periyar’s approach to the intermediate castes and explores, with reference to his primary texts, how he used the identity of ‘Sudra’ and why he used the same.
- Periyar: A Study in Political Atheism. Hyderabad: Orient BlackSwan. 2022.
The first academic book length study of Periyar after the works of Anita Diehl and E. Sa. Visswanathan – however, while their studies are focused on providing a biographical portrait of the man and covering his place in political history respectively, mine is a theoretical engagement with Periyar’s ideas. Reading Periyar in the anarchist tradition, I derive the concept of political atheism as a challenge to political theology from his thoughts.
- “Sudras and the Nation: Periyarist Explorations.” Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 57, Issue No 44-45. 2022.
This essay tries to present Periyar’s ‘sudra critique’ (taking from Kancha Ilaiah) and explores how it addresses tensions of caste and nation. Periyar used the inferiorized identity of ‘sudra’ not in assertion or pride, but as a social critique of brahminism. Acknowledging the existence of multiple jatis within the sudra varna, Periyar criticized their notions of hierarchy towards each other and especially towards the Dalits. He wanted to challenge caste as a system and the dominant nation paradigm which, according to him, enforced this system.
1. Murder in Mudukulathur: Caste and Electoral Politics in Tamil Nadu, K.A. Manikumar. Review of Development and Change. 24(2). pp. 287-289. 2019.
2. Panthers in Parliament: Dalits, Caste, and Political Power in South India, Hugo Gorringe. Journal of South Asian Development. 14, no. 2. pp. 244-247. 2019.
3. Brahmin and Non-Brahmin: Genealogies of the Tamil Political Present, M.S.S. Pandian. Seminar. 708. pp. 69-71. 2018.
*This is not a comprehensive list of my publications. Only those of my publications related to Periyar and Dravidian Studies are listed here.