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Caste-ing Academia: The Global Rise of (Critical) Caste Studies

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Organizer: Shruti Jain

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North American academia in the last few decades has been forced to confront Caste as a crucial analytic in the study of the local and the global through various disciplinary perspectives. With groundbreaking work such as Yashica Dutt’s Coming Out as Dalit (2019), Divya Cherian’s Merchants of Virtue: Hindus, Muslims, and Untouchables in Eighteenth-Century South Asia (2022) and so on, Caste has become, rightly so, an avoidable part of the global-postcolonial-neocolonial world of scholarship. Recent work by scholars like Nico Slate and Isabel Wilkerson seeks to compare and connect modern racial structures in the US and Europe to the ancient system of Caste in India. Nico Slate, similar to Wilkerson, bases his work on the coinciding decline of slavery and the expansion of the Empire in the nineteenth century, to trace connections between India’s twentieth century anti-colonial struggle and American struggle against racial segregation. Moving away from the assumption that the study of Caste has to be limited to the Dalit studies, this panel seeks to bring to attention the caste-ridden relations, structures, institutions and individual identities that seem to remain “caste-less”. The goal of this panel is to think about possibilities of further expansions in the study of Caste as a critical analytic that reveals structures, connections and points of flux. Further, this panel also seeks to direct critical attention to the uptake of Caste in academia. Participants are encouraged to submit proposals that address but are not limited to the following ideas:

Affordances of a cross-disciplinary intersectional study of Caste
The appropriation of Caste studies and its subsumption under elite institutional power structures
Advantages and disadvantages of comparative studies of Race and Caste
Expansion or destruction of postcolonial studies through the focus on Caste
Decolonizing the postcolonial through Caste
Crucial connections between Caste, Gender and Sexuality
The limitations of translating anti-caste work in the global context
Provincializing Caste by choosing the local over the global


Please submit an abstract of 250-300 words with a short bio to

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