OBITUARY> Eleanor Zelliot (1926-2016)

Roger Jackson's picture
Dear Colleagues,
I am, with sadness, forwarding the announcement of the passing yesterday of my colleague and friend, Prof. Eleanor Zelliot, a pioneer in the study of Indian Dalits in general and the Ambedkar Buddhist movement in particular. She will be deeply missed, but leaves behind a rich legacy of publications, and fond memories in the hearts of those who knew her.
Roger Jackson
Roger R. Jackson
John W. Nason Professor of Asian Studies and Religion
Carleton College
One North College Street
Northfield, MN 55057
O: 507-222-4226
H: 507-645-4780
F: 507-222-4223


Dear Carleton faculty, staff, and retirees,
It is my very sad duty to tell you that Eleanor Zelliot died last nightJune 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 FridayJune 17th, at 9am, at the Carleton Chapel.  A smaller memorial service in the manner of Friends will be held on SaturdayJune 18th, at 2pm, at the Cannon Valley Friends Meeting House (512 Washington St., Northfield).  
Remembrances of Eleanor may be written at the Farewells site at:
Please keep all of Eleanor's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.  
In sorrow and gratitude for Eleanor's life,
Carolyn Fure-Slocum
Carleton College Chaplain
One North College Street
Northfield, MN 55057