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

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Theory and the Possibility of ‘Dalit Studies’

A response to “The Impossibility of ‘Dalit Studies’” by Ankit Kawade (EPW, 23 November 2019) points out that the possibility of living the life of the mind can be realised in Dalit studies itself if experience is posited as the necessary condition for theorisation.

The necessity of theorisation in “Dalit studies” is slowly becoming the centre of focus in academia as against the earlier tendencies to reduce it into a sociological, historical or political discourse.1 However, “Dalit studies” is still largely viewed as the study of exclusionary practices, which fosters “identity politics” rather than contributing to theory. Ankit Kawade’s article, “The Impossibility of ‘Dalit Studies’” (EPW, 23 November 2019) also shares this belief regarding the nature of
Dalit studies.

The author argues that the introduction of “Dalit studies” in higher education institutes reveals the politics of “inclusive exclusion” by confining Dalits to the Dalit issues only. At the same time, they are denied the epistemic participation in the knowledge formation of other disciplines. Hence, “Dalit studies” has become the politics of exclusion rather than inclusion in the hands of Brahminical forces. The way out of this “double bind,” as the author calls it, is to facilitate the situation within the institutional spaces where a Dalit can move freely into the hegemonic spaces of disciplines appropriated by the Brahminical forces.

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Updated On : 13th Feb, 2021
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