Historical and Contemporary Anti-Caste Utopias: A Dalit Bahujan Discourse and Practice for Emancipatory Social Transformations

Deadline for submissions: February 15, 2023

The Real Utopias Project was started in the early 1990s by Marxist sociologists in search of alternatives to existing structures of power, privilege, and inequality. However, this philosophical framework did not widen its study to diverse categories, dimensions, and manifestations of social stratification in different societies outside the Western world. This themed issue of J-Caste intends to critique, engage and expand The Real Utopias Project within a Dalit Bahujan framework of emancipatory social transformation. In a deeply hierarchical Indian society, any notion of equality and self-respect can be considered a fantasy. However, the anti-caste thinkers in India envisioned utopias to contradict their inhuman reality. In the alternate epistemology proposed by Phule, Ambedkar, Periyar, Tarabai Shinde, and Rokeya Hussain to name a few, human suffering was foregrounded in ‘here and now’, not in some remote sinful past. In the process, they dwelt on equal resource distribution, a sense of collectivity, and a more equitable society.

The ideas and works of historical anti-caste intellectuals have received significant academic attention. However, one should not perceive them as locked in some distant past but see how they are re-actualized in the present-day context. This themed issue attempts at a further and deeper understanding of various historical anti-caste imaginaries and their contemporary reproduction. What is the relevance of the historical anti-caste thinkers today? How do their ideas spread and ramify through new thinkers, ideologies, social movements, and creative work? The following papers aim at investigating the ideas of the historical anti-caste ideologues and how they resonate today in the works of new present-day Dalit Bahujan intellectual leaders, histories, iconography, social movements, oral narratives, pedagogies, and how these ideas are practically enacted in social, political, legal and cultural spheres, reproducing and re-actualizing the anti-caste intellectual and political tradition.

The contributions in this themed issue will touch upon the following questions: What anti-caste utopias do the post-Ambedkar leadership propose? How do the anti-caste imaginaries intertwine with the everyday experiences of certain Dalit communities (e.g. Valmikis)? How does a specific movement (e.g. Arunthathiyar movement) relate to the ideas of the classical anti-caste ideologues? How does gender become an integral part of anti-caste utopias in the works of certain ideologues (e.g. Periyar)? What utopias are conceptualized through Dalit religious conversions? How anti-caste utopias are brought into practice through pedagogical work? How certain symbols (e.g. beef) are taken to encompass and represent anti-caste imaginaries?

We invite interested authors working on these themes/questions within academia, policy, practice, advocacy, and/or activism to consider submitting their manuscripts for this issue, via the J-CASTE submission portal. Please specify “Issue on Anti-Caste Utopias” in the Comments for the Editor. You may submit your manuscript now or up until the deadline. Submitted papers will go through a double-blind peer-review process and should not be under consideration for publication elsewhere. Authors interested in discussing their manuscripts or respective submissions for this issue are invited to contact the Guest Editors listed below with a brief abstract of about 200-250 words.

Last Date for full article submissions: January 15, 2023

Guest Editors
N. Sukumar- Delhi University, Delhi, India. Email: skn70@yahoo.com

Kristina Garalyte University of Vilnius, Lithuania.
Shailaja Menon- Ambedkar University, Delhi, India.