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Casteing Class: Ambedkar’s Project of Liberation and Reconstruction; Critical Refusals of Brahminism and Hierarchies of Injustice

Ambedkar International, Conference, New York, October 11, 2014

HANDOUTS for the remarks by Prof. Andy Lamas (University of Pennsylvania):


Today, October 11, 2014, marks an interesting moment of challenge and possibility in the development of anti-caste thought and liberation philosophy. This morning, Scott Simon — a Peabody Award-winning correspondent for National Public Radio and host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, broadcast an editorial entitled “In A Way, Gandhi Also Won 2014’s Nobel Peace Prize”, which recycles the standard, misinformed line on Gandhi in the United States and around the world.  Dalits (“Untouchables”) and other oppressed peoples in India know better.  And so do those who have critically studied the collected writings of Gandhi and his historical record in South Africa and in India.   Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. represented the best of what many have come to understand as the Gandhian way, but tragically, Gandhi himself did not. Scott Simon’s editorial broadcast — which was assuredly written with the best of intentions and which arises from what Americans (myself included) and so many others have been taught since childhood about Gandhi  — perpetuates a mythology that has long distorted history and provided cover for the continuation of unjust inequalities and hierarchies. But, fortunately, today ended not with well-rehearsed myth but with well-documented facts from the historical record of Gandhi’s own writings in a brilliant, public lecture in New York by Arundhati Roy — the world-famous Indian author and political activist who may be best known as the author of The God of Small Things (which won the 1998 Man Booker Prize for Fiction).

I encourage everyone to read Arundhati Roy’s erudite and myth-shattering Introduction to the recently published book of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s 1936 Annihilation of Caste (which also reprints an important exchange between Gandhi and Ambedkar). In my view, no one who reads Arundhati Roy’s Introduction will ever think about Gandhi in the same way again. And even Scott Simon — after perhaps inviting Arundhati Roy onto NPR for an extended interview — might consider broadcasting an editorial about a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize for Ambedkar, who not only authored the Indian Constitution but also led the struggle against anti-caste discrimination — the missing piece of today’s human rights struggle.

AMBEDKAR Annihilation of Caste

“The Doctor and the Saint,” an introduction by Arundhati Roy

B.R. Ambedkar, Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical Edition (2014)

S. Anand, editor

This book will immediately go onto the reading list for my courses at the University of Pennsylvania.

–Prof. Andrew Lamas

Urban Studies Program / Social Justice Research Academy / University of Pennsylvania




jazz-papou-and-charlie-parker.jpg Ted Lamas and Charlie Parker, New York.

You are invited to preview the Fall 2014 SYLLABUS of my course — LIBERATION & OWNERSHIP — at the University of Pennsylvania: URBS 480 Fall 2014 SYLLABUS rev. 09-16-2014

Social Justice Research Academy: SYLLABUS 2014


The Social Justice Research Academy, held annually every July at the University of Pennsylvania, is for high school students—from across the USA and around the world—who are interested in the theory, history, and contemporary practice of social justice. In 2014, 53 students from four continents gathered together for three weeks—with Penn faculty from a wide range of disciplines and with activists from the arenas of economy, politics, religion, education, immigration, food, health, culture, community development, and more:

  • to engage in a wide range of critical inquiries and discussions,
  • to attend provocative lectures, films, and site visits, and
  • to participate in activities and workshops, including Theatre of the Oppressed.

Click here to review our 2014 SYLLABUS. 

Click here for registration information. 

 Please direct inquiries to Prof. Andy Lamas at: 


Recent Articles



You are invited to preview my Syllabus for the Spring 2015 course — GLOBAL URBAN POVERTY — a graduate offering in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania:  This course will meet on Mondays, 9am-12noon. [Schedule Note: The first class meeting will be on Wednesday, January 14, 2015; and, the class will not meet on the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday on Monday, January 19, 2015.]

As this syllabus is always being revised in light of the latest research and global developments, comments and suggestions — particularly from prospective students — will be warmly welcomed and appreciated.  Please note: This course, sponsored by PennDesign for graduate students in the Master’s degree program in City Planning (MCP), is open to graduate students across the University of Pennsylvania. Serious undergraduates may enroll with course faculty permission.

For more information about the course, please write to me at:


Andy Lamas (Faculty Bio)



Marcuse Conference at Columbia University 2014

Marcuse COLUMBIA One-Dimensional Man 2014


Du Bois, Dusk of Dawn

W. E. B. Du Bois, Dusk of Dawn, 1940

Chapter 4, “Science and Emipire” Du Bois DUSK OF DAWN ch. 4 Science and Empire

Chapter 5, “The Concept of Race” Du Bois DUSK OF DAWN ch. 5 The Concept of Race



The Best of All Possible Worlds

Voltaire, Candide, ou l’Optimisme (1759)

CANDIDE 1755_Lisbon_earthquake This 1755 copper engraving shows the ruins of Lisbon in flames and a tsunami overwhelming the ships in the harbour.

This 1755 copper engraving shows the ruins of Lisbon amidst that year’s devastating earthquake. In its wake, Voltaire wrote Candide. 



When Adam Delved and Eve Span: A History of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381

This wonderful book by Mark O’Brien (Senior Research Fellow, University of Liverpool) has become a staple in my courses at the University of Pennsylvania.

MARK O’BRIEN Peasants’ Revolt 1381 CHAPTER 1

MARK O’BRIEN Peasants’ Revolt 1381 CHAPTER 2

MARK O’BRIEN Peasants’ Revolt 1381 CHAPTER 3

MARK O’BRIEN Peasants’ Revolt 1381 CHAPTER 4

MARK O’BRIEN Peasants’ Revolt 1381 CHAPTER 5

MARK O’BRIEN Peasants’ Revolt 1381 CHAPTER 6 and Notes Index Back Cover


Fiftieth Anniversary of Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man

Click Here:
February 10, 2015
This year—2014—is the fiftieth anniversary of one of the twentieth century’s
most provocative, subversive, and widely read works of radical theory—
Herbert Marcuse’s 
One-Dimensional Man
To mark the occasion, 
a special issue of the 
Radical Philosophy Review 
will be published.  
You are invited to contribute to the project
of developing critical theory for our time 
by joining us in exploring, critiquing, assessing, and extending
the critical legacy of this important work.

Brandeis Conference on Herbert Marcuse: October 1-2, 2014


You are invited to attend the upcoming conference — “The Many Dimensions of Herbert Marcuse” — at Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) on October 1-2, 2014.  The keynote addresses will be delivered by Martin Jay (UC, Berkeley) and Douglas Kellner (UCLA). For more information and to register:




International Herbert Marcuse Society


Bread & Roses Community Fund: Tribute for Change 2014

Bread & Roses TRIBUTE TO CHANGE Conscience and Freedom 2014


You are warmly invited to support and attend this great event!

The Philadelphia region’s favorite social justice community event – the Tribute to Change – is coming up on Tuesday, June 24, 2014!

Will you help us honor this amazing group of social change leaders by sponsoring the Tribute to Change or buying an ad?

Will you sponsor the Tribute to Change to show your friends, family, and colleagues that you support real change? Just as we cheer for our honorees, we proudly announce your name as a sponsor because your support deserves applause. When you sponsor, you affirm our work and our deep commitment to community organizing as the best way to deliver real change.

Go to the sponsorship and ad form 

Thank you!



CALL FOR PAPERS (deadline: June 30, 2014)

CALL FOR PAPERS (deadline: June 30, 2014)



Critical Refusals: Radical Philosophy Review 16.2 (2013)


The International Herbert Marcuse Society has cooperated with the Radical Philosophy Association to publish a special double issue of the Radical Philosophy Review in 2013.   Both of these issues (RPR 16.1 and RPR 16.2) present a number of special contributions (e.g., heretofore unpublished work by Herbert Marcuse and Jurgen Habermas) as well as selected papers (including a keynote address by Angela Davis) that arose from the “Critical Refusals” conference at the University of Pennsylvania, in October 2011, during the height of Occupy.   The first of these two issues was published in Summer 2013, and the second was published in Fall 2013.

The cover spread of RPR 16.2 (2013) is presented here: RPR 16-2 Cover spread–version 2

Radical Philosophy Review – Volume 16, Number 2 – 2013
Arnold L. Farr; Douglas Kellner; Andrew T. Lamas; Charles Reitz
Angela Y. Davis
Marge Piercy
Heather Love
Queer Critique, Queer Refusal
In a moment of widespread assimilation of lesbians and gays, there are also continuing exclusions—of poor queers, queers of color, undocumented queers, disabled queers, nonmonogamous queers, transgender people, and others. Herbert Marcuse’s reflections on sexuality, freedom, and negation are helpful in articulating a strategy and an ethics for a renewed queer criticism—one alive to both new inclusions and ongoing exclusions. Focusing on Marcuse’s concept of the Great Refusal, this paper considers the marginalization of gender and sexual outsiders as a political resource, the basis for a project of difference without limits.
Holly Lewis
The Dialectic of Solidarity – Space, Sexuality, and Social Movements in Contemporary Revolutionary Praxis
The common sense that queer liberation is based upon a linear or progressive trajectory fails to account for the complexities and contradictions surrounding the current demand for LGBT equality and its place within intersecting social movements. This article uses the history of Marxist praxis, including Marcuse’s contributions, to argue for abandoning linear and stagist assumptions of gradual change in favor of a dialectical approach toward the intersection of identity formation and social struggle.
Peter Marcuse
Occupy Consciousness – Reading the 1960s and Occupy Wall Street with Herbert Marcuse
Herbert Marcuse was concerned with many of the same issues that confront the Occupy Wall Street movement today. Change the militant “students” in the 1960s to the militant “occupiers” today, and his views on their philosophical bases and strategies for change remain similar. Militant protest is reacting to an aggressive, profit-driven system, reducing its subservient population to consumption-fixated one-dimensionality. The ideology-motivated militants cannot by themselves change things all at once, yet the ideological/psychological elements can lead the material bases of the struggle to produce radical change in one area at a time, suggesting an agenda akin to the “long march through the institutions” of the 1960s.
George Katsiaficas
Eros and Revolution
In his later work, Marcuse concerned himself with the nexus between social movements and unconscious dimensions of human nature. He understood Nature (including instincts) as an “ally” in the revolutionary process. In this paper, I seek to explore his insight through the concept of the “eros effect,” which I first uncovered while analyzing the global revolt of 1968. Forms of direct democracy and collective action developed by the New Left continue to define movement aspirations and structures. Although contemporary rational choice theorists (who emphasize individual gain as the key motivation for people’s actions) cannot comprehend instinctual motivations, a different understanding is central to my conception.
Michael Forman
One-Dimensional Man and the Crisis of Neoliberal Capitalism – Revisiting Marcuse in the Occupation
A new wave of global protest movements offers the opportunity to reassess Marcuse’s work in the early twenty-first century. Before engaging with the Occupy movement and its analogs, it is necessary to scrutinize Marcuse’s assumptions about the affluent society. This examination suggests that the conditions of neoliberal accumulation diverge significantly from those Marcuse more or less took for granted as permanently stabilizing capitalist societies in the Global North. While much of what Marcuse offers retains relevance, its appeal to the new movements is not immediate because these can no longer take for granted the prosperity of the earlier era.
Francis Dupuis-Déri
Herbert Marcuse and the “Antiglobalization” Movement – Thinking through Radical Opposition to Neoliberal Globalization
There is at present a broad social movement opposing the advanced capitalist system and the politicians that support it. As in the 1960s, this political current is comprised of reformists (social democrats) on the one hand and radicals (anticapitalists and antiauthoritarians) on the other. In proposing a rereading of Herbert Marcuse, we hope to facilitate a better understanding of the frame of mind of the radicals participating in today’s movement against capitalist globalization. The limitations of Marcuse’s thought may point to the limitations of contemporary radicalism while highlighting its originality when compared to the protest movements of the previous generation.
Sarah Lynn Kleeb
The Violence of Tolerance – At the Intersection of Liberation Theology and Critical Theory
Utilizing insights from liberation theologians and critical theorists, this paper examines the intersection of tolerance and violence, as manifest in contemporary world events, particularly the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto. Connecting Marcuse’s scathing critique of tolerance to first, second, and third forms of violence, elucidated by Dom Hélder Câmara, suggests that the modern conception of tolerance does little to hinder the violence of the state. Câmara asserts that reactionary violence is wholly dependent on the initial engagement of representatives of authority; Marcuse may have considered such reactions a refusal of blind tolerance and an assertion of agency in the face of repression.
Toorjo Ghose
Democracy by Day, Police State by Night – What the Eviction of Occupy Philadelphia Revealed about Policing in the United States
Examining the eviction of Occupy Philadelphia from city hall on November 30, 2011, this paper analyzes police tactics to address public protests in the United States. The results highlight three aspects of the police strategy deployed during the eviction: (1) a preconceived plan to manage protests, (2) the use of militarized tactics to implement this management plan, and (3) the imposition of a state of dissociative meditation triggered by the incarceration that followed the eviction. The strategy of management, militarization, and meditation (or the 3M strategy) demonstrates the Marcusean notion of repressive tolerance and characterizes the police response to public dissent.
Costas Gousis
Postcards from Greece! – Rethinking State Theory and Political Strategy of the Twenty-First Century
With a focus on the social and political conjuncture in Greece following interventions by the troika of the International Monetary Fund, European Union, and European Central Bank, as well as with an analysis of historical trends in Greek capitalism, the end of the Metapolitefsi period, and the rise in authoritarian statism, I argue for a revival of Marxist state theory in understanding the current global crisis. I identify this moment in Greece as a battle for hegemony between the dominant narratives of disaster that perpetuate the vicious cycle of debt-and-austerity and an alternative, radical narrative of here-and-now.
Wolfgang Leo Maar
Beyond and Within Actual Society – The Dialectics of Power and Liberation
The materialist approach of One-Dimensional Man emerges in a later work in which Marcuse connects the notion of “new sensibility” to a “complex intermediary function of the intellect.” Revolutionary praxis “is not simply negation but contradiction,” and thus Marcuse’s “new idea of reason” constructs a liberating rationality upon a technological one. This is accomplished by moving from an abstract “concept” of possibility to the perception of possibility as a “social alternative.” Here I examine the “dialectical logic” of human rights, which critiques an unfree world and asserts itself as a political determinant dependent on the rupturing of established power.
Clayton Pierce
Educational Life and Death – Reassessing Marcuse’s Critical Theory of Education in the Neoliberal Age
Drawing upon Herbert Marcuse’s lectures and writings on education, I argue that foundational to his critical theory of education is a biopolitical project calling for the pedagogical production of new human beings under counterrevolutionary types of education. In the second section, I put Marcuse’s biopolitically rethought critical theory of education into conversation with W. E. B. Du Bois’s critique of caste education, as both share the demand for an abolition ethic to be the ontological grounding of the educational subject. Ultimately, I argue an abolition politics needs to be the basis for reimagining education in counterrevolutionary times.
Christopher Holman
Toward a Politics of Nonidentity – Rethinking the Political Philosophy of Herbert Marcuse
This paper will provide an immanent critique of the political theory of Herbert Marcuse. I argue that Marcuse’s politics are often inadequate when considered from the standpoint of his theory of socialism, the latter being understood as the realization of the negative human capacity for creation in all those fields within which the human being is active. Although Marcuse’s politics often reveals itself as instrumental and managerialist in orientation, I will argue that there nevertheless remains a certain countertendency in his philosophy, one which can be seen as affirming a negative and nonidentitarian politics of overcoming that looks always toward creation.
Nancy J. Hirschmann
Disability, Feminism, and Intersectionability – A Critical Approach
Critical theorists should turn to disability as an important category of intersectional analysis. I demonstrate this through one type of critical theory—namely, feminism. Disability intersects with all vectors of identity, since disability affects people of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, sexualities, and classes. Gender and sexuality are particularly illustrative because disability is configured in ways that map onto negative images of femininity (e.g., weakness, dependence). Additionally, the ways in which feminist and disability scholars undertake analysis are complementary. And because these two fields are inherently interdisciplinary, dialogue between them can yield a richer notion of intersectionality within intersectionality.
Nathan Nun
Practical Aesthetics – Community Gardens and the New Sensibility
This paper argues that community gardens, in addition to being economically practical, offer a promising example of an environment that fosters the new sensibility. After exploring Marcuse’s new sensibility and his critique of aesthetic experience under capitalism, the paper turns to some empirical studies of the benefits of the aesthetic qualities of community gardening. These studies correspond to Marcuse’s proposition that aesthetic environments can play a role in challenging domination. The last section of this paper considers how those involved in the D-Town Farm in Detroit self-consciously assert the community garden as a political project that challenges domination.