Racism and Casteism in Light of Childhoods

Tanu Biswas's picture
March 26, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Childhood and Education, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Philosophy, Race Studies


This is the second meeting in the Transnational Childism Colloquium (TCC) series, hosted by the Childism Institute at Rutgers University Camden, this time in collaboration with the Critical Childhood and Youth Studies Collective - South Asia, India.
The second meeting seeks to address the closely related phenomena of racism and casteism in light of childhoods. Our panelists will introduce us to how structural racism and casteism intersect with the marginalization of childhoods. Thereafter, the following questions will be explored in conversation with the panelists and the audience: How may childism be related to global anti-discrimination/privilege-critical movements? What can it learn from them? and What can it contribute?


The #BlackLivesMatter movement in the USA inspired the #DalitLivesMatter movement in India to highlight contemporary caste-based oppressions. In a similar vein, recent scholarly works such as 'Practicing Caste' by Aniket Jaaware (2020) and 'Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents’ by Isabel Wilkersen (2020) beckon an overdue transnational dialogue between racism and casteism. Both Jaaware (2020) and Wilkerson (2020) invite us to notice the family resemblance of racism and casteism: these forms of social discrimination refer to a lack of relationship with the ‘other’, a lack of acknowledgement of deep interdependence and vulnerability of collective existence. Racism and casteism gush throughout the lifespan from birth, education, employment, post-employment to death. This holds regardless of whether one thinks about childhood and casteism in Global Southern “societies of inheritance” or childhood and racism in Global Northern “societies of acquisition.” Parents undergo extreme suffering to educate the child; usually it is the mother who makes the most sacrifices, possibly beginning with the sacrifice of food itself. The educated child probably seeks employment in state-sponsored or private enterprises – all along navigating structural and social discrimination pulsating through their becoming-in-the-world. In this colloquium, the organisers host a space for global anti-discrimination/privilege-critical, academic solidarities beyond south-north divides in the experiences of children.


8:00-8:10 Welcome and Introduction (Tanu Biswas, University of Bayreuth)
8:10-8:40 Panel 1: Racism (Moderator: Lara Saguisag, City University of New York) Crystal Webster, University of Texas
Sebastian Barajas, Rutgers University Camden
8:40-8:45 Break
8:45-9:15 Panel 2: Casteism (Moderator: Anandini Dar, Ambedkar University) Sundar Sarukkai, Indian Institute of Science Jana Tschurenev, Humboldt University
9:15-9:25 Summary – (Lara Saguisag)
9:25-9:55 Open Discussion (Anandini Dar)
9:55-10:00 Concluding Remarks (Tanu Biswas, University of Bayreuth)


The Transnational Childism Colloquium (TCC)

The Transnational Childism Colloquium (TCC) is a regular opportunity to explore and reflect critically on childism. Childism refers to the effort to challenge children’s historical marginalization by transforming scholarly, social, and political structures and norms. Like feminism but relating to children, it has emerged in the last two decades to describe how children’s lived experiences can challenge and change historically engrained adultism in many walks of life. Childism is an interdisciplinary tool for both scholars of children and scholars in general. It has been used to think and act differently around politics, human rights, literature,
history, climate change, families, gender, race, research methods, and more. It stands alongside similar critical perspectives like feminism, antiracism, environmentalism, posthumanism, and the like as able to make broad contributions across research and societies.

Hosted by the Childism Institute at Rutgers University in the United States, often in collaboration with other organizations, the TCC meets online three times a year. 1. Each January or February, it focuses on the concept childism itself, examining how the term can be theorized, critiqued, and developed. 2. Each March or April, it examines how childism may be related to other critical movements, including what it can learn from them as well as what it can contribute. 3. And each June or July, it explores how childism could be used to impact social practice, whether in policy, professions, research methods, or larger society and culture. Anyone is welcome to participate in any colloquium, regardless of nationality, profession, status, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, or age.

The Critical Childhoods and Youth Studies Collective

The Critical Childhoods and Youth Studies Collective (CCYSC) is a network for scholars and practitioners engaged in the field of research on and with children and youth across South Asia and beyond.
This collective first formally came together in May 2018. It developed out of an interest among faculty at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD), India who teach and conduct research on issues pertaining to children, childhoods, and youth. The aim of the CCYSC has been to further the networks on multi-disciplinary research and teaching in the field of Childhood and Youth Studies, and plan research and other related activities in this area of inquiry.

Contact Info: 

Join Zoom Meeting https://rutgers.zoom.us/j/99536691030?pwd=VlVvRWNjUEVtb0xZdzBBd2VMSDc4UT09
Meeting ID: 869 6183 4252

Passcode: 918337