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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):

BACKGROUND NOTE:

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

email: ATLamas@sas.upenn.edu

LIBERATION & OWNERSHIP Fall 2014

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

 SOCIAL JUSTICE RESEARCH ACADEMY 2014: Syllabus

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: ATLamas@sas.upenn.edu 
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