ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Race and Caste

Caste is even more incompatible with the development of working-class consciousness than race.

Intellectual activists often find it necessary to pen historical accounts of the nature of the processes they have been struggling against—racism, casteism, patriarchy, capitalism and imperialism. Predictably, political partisans of the official positions in the higher academy invariably argue that the works of these intellectuals are not “objective,” and even try to “purge” them from the university in order to safeguard the “venerable institution” from “politicisation.” We need to however keep in mind that these intellectual activists write from the vantage point of commitment to liberation. Unlike establishment academics, they tend to give a great deal of importance to the successes and failures of the liberation movements of the past, and to human agency in making history.

One such intellectual activist, Angela Davis, sought to link the collective predicament of black people in the United States (US) and Dalits in India at the Eighth Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Lecture in Mumbai on 16 December on the topic “Black Lives, Dalit Lives: Histories and Solidarities.” While acknow­ledging that “race and caste are not fundamentally the same; they are two different modes of subjugation,” she emphasised the importance of “learning from the long histories of Dalit peoples in India.” Davis’ lecture was a great opportunity to learn about the struggles for black liberation in the US, past and present, and to realise that such liberation is essential to the liberation of all people, and impossible without it.

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