Leisure, Festival, Revolution: Ambedkarite Productions of Space

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Thomas Crowley

Abstract

This article analyzes the town of Mahad in the state of Maharashtra, using it as a lens to examine protests and commemorations that are inseparable from Ambedkarite and Neo-Buddhist transformations of space. A key site of anti-caste struggle, Mahad witnessed two major protests led by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in 1927: the claiming of water from Chavdar Tale, a tank located in a upper caste neighbourhood; and the burning of the Manusmriti. These events are commemorated every year with large-scale festivities. The article analyzes the ways that these protests and festivities have worked to produce a distinctly Ambedkarite space, one that is radically counterposed to hierarchical, Brahminical productions of space. Exploring the writings of Ambedkar and more recent Ambedkarite scholars, and putting these texts into dialogue with the spatial theories of Henri Lefebvre, the article contributes to a growing international literature on the spatiality of caste. The Navayana Buddhism pioneered by Ambedkar has been analyzed in terms of its ideology, its pragmatism, and its politics, but rarely in terms of its spatiality. Drawing on Lefebvre helps flesh out this spatial analysis while a serious engagement with neo-Buddhist practices helps to expand, critique and globalize some of Lefebvre’s key claims.


Key words: Ambedkar, Lefebvre, Mahad, neo-Buddhism, festival, revolution

Article Details

How to Cite
Crowley, T. (2020). Leisure, Festival, Revolution: Ambedkarite Productions of Space. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 1(2), 31-50. https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v1i2.199
Section
Research Articles