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Posts tagged ‘Capitalism’


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



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


Social Justice Research Academy — Introduction

Social Justice Research Academy

The Social Justice Research Academy brings high school students from across the USA and around the world together with faculty from the University of Pennsylvania (and visiting faculty from other institutions) to examine the historical importance and the contemporary relevance of struggles to overcome inequality and injustice.

Morning Lectures and Discussions – Attend classes with Penn faculty from several disciplines, including urban/global studies, philosophy, race and gender, economics and community development, politics, law and policy, history, sociology, environment, and public health.

Afternoon Workshops and Site Visits – Participate in activities with special guests from community groups, cooperatives, socially responsible businesses, labor unions, political advocacy organizations, environmental projects, urban farms, research institutes, and philanthropies.

The promise of – and the struggle for – freedom is one of the enduring narratives of human society. The faculty will call upon knowledge and experience from many sources:
•past struggles – peasant revolts, slave rebellions, anti-colonial and anti-apartheid independence movements
•present struggles – Arab Spring, Occupy, and ongoing human rights campaigns across the globe

This academy has been designed for students who are interested in:
•society, economy, politics, and environment
•performing research supplemented by photography, video, music, art, or digital design
•developing skills for leadership and organizational development
•completing projects related to freedom, justice, equality, sustainability, peace, and fairness

Program Director: Andrew T. Lamas, J.D.

Andy Lamas began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania in 1990. His primary appointment is in the School of Arts & Sciences’ Urban Studies Program, where he focuses on the theoretical and practical dimensions, as well as the philosophical and religious bases, of social justice and economic democracy — in the context of urbanization. He has also lectured in other schools and programs at Penn, including the Law School, the Wharton School, and the School of Social Policy & Practice.

If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Prof. Lamas at:


Women, Water, and the World


Pizza and Revolution

For several years, Masterman High School in Philadelphia, PA, has invited me to teach a weekly course during the March-May term.   In 2011, sixty-six (66) students enrolled in the elective course, which took place during the Third Period lunch break.   Here is a summary description of the course:

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics: The Thought of Karl Marx and Albert Einstein

Only eleven mourners stood at the grave of Karl Marx at Highgate Cemetery in London, England, on March 17, 1883. “His name and work,” predicted Marx’s life-long friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels, “will endure through the ages.” It seemed an unlikely boast, but he was right.  (ST)

To celebrate the year 2000, BBC News conducted a poll to find “the greatest thinker of the millennium,” and Karl Marx was the first-place winner by a wide margin.  (Here are the other winners:   2. Albert Einstein,    3. Sir Isaac Newton, 4. Charles Darwin, 5. St. Thomas Aquinas, 6. Stephen Hawking, 7. Immanuel Kant,   8. Rene Descartes, 9. James Clerk Maxwell, and 10. Friedrich Nietzsche.)

In May, 1949, in the first issue of the journal Monthly Review, Albert Einstein wrote the lead article, entitled “Why Socialism?”  The opening lines of the article are: “Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.”

In this MG course, we will examine the historical importance and the contemporary relevance of the philosophical, political, and economic thought of Karl Marx and Albert Einstein.  This course is only for students who are (or who are interested in becoming) serious intellectuals and critical thinkers … and who like pizza.

Mondays, Third Period (during lunch)