Online International Conference on THEORISING ANTICASTEISM

Dr. Mahitosh Mandal's picture
June 7, 2022 to June 8, 2022
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Ethnic History / Studies, Human Rights, Nationalism History / Studies, South Asian History / Studies

Department of English

Presidency University, Kolkata


A Two-Day Online International Conference

7th and 8th June 2022 (Google Meet)


Theorising Anticasteism

Convenor: Dr Mahitosh Mandal, Head, Department of English


Concept Note:

Casteism can be described, among other things, as a deep-rooted prejudice that motivates and leads to caste-based atrocities and discrimination against the ‘lower castes’ and outcastes (Dalits) of the Indian subcontinent and Indian diaspora. Such discrimination is multi-layered and is on the rise. As of 2020, every 10 minutes a crime is committed against a Dalit and every day 8 Dalit women are subjected to rape in India. Crimes against the Dalits include murder, lynching, massacre, suicide, social ostracization, economic exploitation, and sexual abuse. Multiple instances of caste-based discrimination, specifically in the Indian diaspora of the USA and UK (e.g. the incident at the BAPS temple, New Jersey; the CISCO case etc.), confirm that casteism is not confined to the Indian subcontinent and that, as apprehended by Babasaheb Ambedkar, caste has indeed become a global problem. Remarkably, European Union has repeatedly taken note of rampant casteism and has resolved to eliminate caste discrimination. As summed up by Anand Teltumbde, capitalistic modernity, the republican constitution, neoliberalism, and globalisation, all have failed to prevent the persistence of casteism.

The proposed conference on ‘theorising anticasteism’ sets out to explore why casteism persists even in the 21st century, particularly through a dual gesture of ‘unmasking the unethical operations of caste’ (Meena Dhanda) and a critique of the history, strategies, and achievements of anticaste movements. Both the terms ‘anticaste’ and ‘anticasteism,’ used without a hyphen but subject to debate, are intended to be annotated and theorised at length. Anticasteism, at a preliminary level, could be considered both as praxis and a critical conceptual category. Theorising anticasteism simultaneously opens up possibilities of interrogating the history and contemporaneity of anticaste resistance and reformulating the problem of casteism at material, ideological, sociological, philosophical, phenomenological, psychological, clinical and artistic and representational levels. The conference thereby aims at revisiting and expanding on the project of ‘annihilation of caste’ proposed by Babasaheb Ambedkar in 1936.

The works of Gajendran Ayyathurai (‘Critical Caste Studies’), Dhanda (‘Philosophical Foundations of Anti-casteism’), Gopal Guru (‘theoretical Brahmins and empirical Shudra’), Kancha Ilaiah (‘Dalitisation’), Sushrut Jadhav (casteism as ‘psychological ethnocide’), Balmurli Natrajan (‘culturalization of caste’), Shailaja Paik (Dalit women’s ‘double discrimination’), Teltumbde (‘Theorising Dalit movements,’ Caste atrocities as ‘India’s hidden apartheid’), and Suraj Yengde (‘many shades of Dalits’), among others, can be used as points of reference for those writing proposals for this conference.

Papers are expected to fall within the following METHODOLOGICAL range:

  1. Close readings of casteist and anti-caste texts (literature, films, graphic narratives, popular culture, politico-philosophical works, and scriptures)
  2. Critical study of anticaste thinkers
  3. Analysis of specific cases of caste-based violence
  4. Historicising pivotal events of anticaste movements
  5. Key concepts in theorising anticasteism

Abstracts may address but need not be limited to the following TOPICS:

  1. Decolonization as debrahminization
  2. Anticaste leaders and colonial masters
  3. Diasporic casteism, global brahmanism
  4. Cultural and academic reproduction of brahmanism
  5. Casteism vis-à-vis nationalism
  6. Political parties, Dalit Phobia and Dalitphilia
  7. Phenomenology of casteism
  8. Psychologising casteism
  9. Biopolitics of caste
  10. Interrogating Dalit politics, rethinking anticaste resistance
  11. Interrogating caste-based identity politics
  12. Revisiting the laws and policies against casteism
  13. Defining ‘Ambedkarism’ and ‘Periyarism’
  14. Dalit historiography vis-à-vis postcolonialism, Marxism, and subaltern studies
  15. Dalit aesthetics as anticasteism
  16. Dalit feminism as anticasteism
  17. Anticaste activism
  18. Anticaste publishing
  19. Caste atrocities and comparative genocide
  20. Anticasteism and the counter-hegemonic religion and culture
  21. Intersectionality: anticasteism and antiracism; anticasteism and anticolonialism; anticasteism and LGBTQIA+ movements; anticasteism and feminism; and so on

Information for the participants:

  • Abstracts: 400-500 words
  • Deadline for the submission of abstracts: 30th April 2022
  • Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 15th May 2022
  • Bio-note (full name, designation, affiliation, research interests): 100-150 words
  • Abstracts with a title and a bio-note must be emailed to
  • There is no registration fee but all speakers and participants must register online before 30th May 2022 by filling in a Google Form available here.


Contact Info: 

Dr Mahitosh Mandal, Head, Department of English