Eleanor Zelliot (1926-2106)

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Ed. Note: Posted on behalf of Frank Conlon, with thanks also to Amna Khalid who posted another version of the same announcement. Prof. Zelliot's publications are listed on the Carleton College website. RD

Many friends and colleagues on H-Asia will be saddened to learn of the passing of Professor Eleanor Zelliot--a widely recognized and honored scholar of Indian history and culture, renowned for her work on Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and on the Dalit communities of India.  A preliminary note from the Carleton College web page has been forwarded by Shana Sippy to the RISA-L list.


Frank F. Conlon
Professor emeritus
University of Washington

The URL: https://apps.carleton.edu/farewells/?story_id=1425996

It is my very sad duty to tell you that Eleanor Zelliot died last night, June 5th, at home in Randolph, MN, surrounded by loving friends and family. She was 89 years old.  Eleanor taught History at Carleton from 1969 until her retirement in 1997 as the Laird Bell Professor of History emerita. Generations of students fell in love with India through her classes, learning to cook and eat Indian food at her house, experiencing Indian culture through the many events she organized, or traveling with her to Pune, India.  She directed the ACM India Studies Program in Pune four times. Eleanor generously gave of her time and attention to her students, colleagues, and friends around the world, offering love, advice, and often a bit of wry humor.

Eleanor was one of the foremost international experts on the history of the Dalits (Untouchables) and their leader, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.  Through her extensive writing and speaking in India, the US, and Europe, she helped to connect the Dalit Movement to other movements against oppression.  Although she claimed she didn't "do religion," she wrote beautifully about the saint-poets of Maharashtra, as well as the importance of Buddhism in the lives of the Dalits.  Eleanor's social justice commitments came at least in part from her life-long commitment to the Friends (Quakers), through whom she first became a writer, editor, teacher, and went on trips to India in 1952 and the Soviet Union in 1955.  She traveled widely, including well into retirement, and continued to write up until her last year.

Eleanor is survived by two nephews, a niece, their families, and many close friends near and far.  A more complete obituary will be forthcoming.

A memorial service for Eleanor will be held on Friday, June 17th, at 9am, at the Carleton Chapel.  A smaller memorial service in the manner of Friends will be held on Saturday, June 18th, at 2pm, at the Cannon Valley Friends Meeting House (512 Washington St., Northfield).

The page has a link for friends who may wish to offer comments.