This talk explores the problem of emancipation through the history of lower castes converting out of Hinduism yet not out of lowliness or casteism in early twentieth century Panjab. I begin by contextualizing what B.R. Ambedkar’s undelivered 1936 Lahore speech on annihilating caste might have meant to an audience of largely landless agricultural laborers. Next, I examine the changing constellation of caste names and occupational designations for these groups amid the emergence of the Ad Dharm movement and its struggle to impart equality, dignity, and community to Panjabi Dalits. To understand this new sense of identity in the context of actual labor practices, I then analyze the fraught relationship between landholding cultivators and landless laborers working side-by-side while continuing to be separate and unequal. That a large proportion of lower castes could adopt religions other than Hinduism or even start their own and yet remain excluded and exploited reveals the limits to a politics of emancipation centered on conversion.
SAS Colloquium Series: Limits of Conversion: Ambedkar, Labor and the Problem of Emancipation in Colonial Panjab - Navyug Gill
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 203
34 Hillhouse AvenueNew Haven, CT 06511