Saturday, 2 July 2011

Vincent on Untouchability

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Dalit theology and Action Conference at Queen's

The conference was a partnership between the Queen's Foundation and Vincent Manorahan of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDR).

It was a good reminder for me of the work of the Dalit Solidarity Network (DSN) which I subscribed to when it first began nearly twenty years ago but somehow fell away from. David Haslam spoke about the work of the DSN in lobbying for international, Indian, and UK recognition of caste discrimination as akin to class or race discrimination.

It was great to meet Mary Grey but sadly I didn't get a chance to properly chat with her as I rushed away just before the conference ended (long story).

Jacob Devadason called for a theology rooted in Methodology, Manoharan called for a theology that actually meant something to the grass roots. Mukti Barton, tutor in Black and Asian theology reminded us of how deeply rooted in the colonial project caste really is.

I don't think anything new emerged out of the day and that is disappointing. But it was the first of it's kind and was likely to be fairly introductory, if only because so many present were new to the issues.

The number and diversity of delegates was hugely encouraging and I expect that to increase if such events take place in the future. I'm sure they will.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hindutva Colonisation of culture

The statement linked here is not entirely clear, which is a shame because from what I can gather the attempt of Dalit activists to assert their own cultural identity in creative ways that open space for others to do the same has been met with litigation and hostility. 

Basically though, Dalit activists: Thol Thirumavalavan, writer Meena Kandasamy and a Kolkata-based publisher, are being sued for expressing opinions on the origins and development of a religious myth. They claim it originates among the indigenous Dalits while their detractors claim the deities discussed in the myth are Hindu and that any suggestion otherwise is offensive and will incite violence. 

It's incredible but this logic continues. Narendra Modi and L K Advani have both suggested previously that violence against minorities is 'understable' considering the offence they give in their views. 

Right wing Hindutva extremists want put up with any mythology rooted in India that they cannot claim exclusively as theirs to define and control. The process of co-opting or sublimating Adivasi and Dalit cultures and communities has been going on for decades. It was M. N. Srinivas who coined the phrase "Sansktrisation" to describe this process. 

The Hindutva idealogues have learnt much from their colonial masters - the British Empire - in forcibly colonising cultures as well as land and mechanics of power. 

It's ironic that Dalit Christians and Muslims are tarred as 'foreign' when they do so much to defend Dalit culture against the invasion of Hindutva hegemony. 

I look forward to seeing how this case progresses but I hope more detail will be given so those of us outside of that context can make more sense of it. 

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Dalits theology conference comes to Birmingham, UK

Dalits theology conference

This conference takes place for a day on the 24th June 2011 from 10 – 4.30 pm,  in Queens Foundation for Theological Education in Birmingham.   
There will be paper presentations on the following topics:

·         The present plight of Dalit Christians in India/ A glimpse on the Caste practices in Britain
·         The  need, origin  and development  of Dalit Theology
·         The Status and the relevance of Dalit Theology among the Grass Root Dalit Christians
·         The experiences that Dalit Theology needs to learn from Black/Asian/Feminist Theologies. 

The Conference has been organised by Vincent Manoharan of the Nationaal Campaign for Dalit Human Rights. Who, in the midst of many years of activism is reading for a PhD in Dalit theology at Queens. 

I'm looking forward to it and will reflect on the day on this blog.

But why blog?

I want to use this blog to be shamelessly indulgent about my book - any reviews, comments (good, bad, and indifferent) will be posted here and perhaps responded too.

The book will be in bookshops nowhere from the beginning of June 2011 and hopefully in libraries all over the world. It's available for pre-order online now from Ashgate at a discount price of £45 and for a bit more at amazon and somehow the book depository or xyshop for £37.50. Ashgate have been wonderfully supportive and even ran ahead of time with the publishing date.

More importantly I want to put up any conferences, events, websites, and other peoples books in the field on here too.

Surely that's reason enough for a blog?