The Evasive Racism of Caste

Monday 23 April 2018, 03:30pm - 05:30pm
Location :Conference room, Institut Français en Inde Contact :This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


CSH 6th External Seminar

Monday, 23 April 2018 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

  At Institut Français en Inde, Conference room (ground floor)

2, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam road, New Delhi 110011

The Evasive Racism of Caste 


Dr. Divya Dwivedi,

Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

About the talk

In the struggle against racism, it has been important to go beyond superficial condemnations of selective definitions of racism. Critical philosophy of race exhumes the orbits in which the co-implicated concepts of race, tribe, ethnicity, Volk and nation emerged. The subcontinental (regionally variant) traditions of practicing caste, that is, casteism, predate the development of race theory attendant upon the institution of slavery, but they have been informed by that development, just as they have informed it. More than a family resemblance obtains between caste and race as forms of descent-based discrimination addressed within a human rights framework. Yet, through the efforts in India both by the government and by some academics, nationalist and postcolonialist, caste has evaded this critique.

To expand the definition of race beyond biology and colour, and to expose the central role of race theory and racism in the philosophical self-construction in the image of “the West” has been a chief preoccupation of the critical philosophy of race. Ironically this preoccupation has up to a point prevented the recognition of the caste as a form of racism, a point that those most oppressed by the caste systems have demonstrated. We need to critically examine the current assumptions that confine race and racism to eurocentrism. The coterminous orbits of what are called caste and race have to be exhumed.

About the speaker 

Divya Dwivedi is a philosopher based in the Subcontinent. She teaches philosophy and literature at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and her research areas include ontology of the literary, narratology, the political thought of M. K. Gandhi, and critical philosophy of race. She was Visiting Fellow at Centre for Fictionality Studies, Aarhus University in 2013 and 2014. She was elected as a member of the Committee on Literary Theory, International Comparative Literature Association (ICLA) in June 2017. Dwivedi is the co-editor of The Public Sphere from outside the West (Bloomsbury Academic 2015) and of Narratology and Ideology: Negotiating Context, Form and theory in Postcolonial Texts (Ohio State UP, May 2018). Her forthcoming publications include a philosophical monograph on Gandhi with Shaj Mohan titled Gandhi and Philosophy: On Theological Antipolitics (Bloomsbury Academic, November 2018), and the issue no. 4-5 (titled “Intellectuals, Philosophers, and Women in India: Endangered Species”) of Revue des Femmes Philosophes (UNESCO) of which she is the special editor.

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