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

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The Impossibility of ‘Dalit Studies’

The meaning and implications of the presence of “Dalit studies” in the pedagogical content of higher education in India need to be analysed. “Dalit studies” seeks to intervene into such a space of pedagogical practices and institutional policies in higher education which may have grudgingly accepted the physical presence of the Dalit through affirmative action, but which has nonetheless historically overlooked the thought of the Dalit.

This is a revised version of a paper presented at a conference titled “Inclusive Pedagogy: Teaching and Learning Practices in Higher Education in India” organised by the Centre for Writing and Communication, Ashoka University, Sonipat, Haryana. The author is thankful to the organisers of the conference, as well as to his co-participants for their immensely helpful feedback. He is especially grateful to Rita Kothari for her critical comments as well as her encouraging words on the article. The author also wishes to thank the anonymous referee for their suggestive comments.

In 1997, Wendy Brown published an essay titled “The Impossibility of Women’s Studies” which discussed the contentious existence of the academic discipline of “women’s studies” in American universities. The central concern that Brown attempted to discuss in her essay was regarding the very tenability of “women’s studies” as “an institutionalised domain of academic study” (Brown 2005: 116). This article proposes to ask the same question regarding the intellectual premise of the discipline and the research programme of “Dalit studies” in the context of higher education in India.

The Premise

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Updated On : 22nd Nov, 2019
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