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Gandhi and Dalits: An Unresolved Dialogue

Visions of Justice: Gandhi at 150

Gandhi and Dalits: An Unresolved Dialogue

Gandhi is known both as the leader of anti-colonial nationalism and also as champion of oppressed and marginalized people like Dalits in India. However, Gandhi’s engagement with Dalits, or former untouchables, is very complicated. He was challenged by Dalits like B.R. Ambedkar and continues to be seen as a controversial figure in relation to Dalit emancipatory politics. This talk by Chinnaiah Jangam, associate professor of history at Carleton University, critically engages with Gandhi’s ideas on caste and untouchability and attempts to bring out the Dalit perspective in the context of Indian national movement.

2019 marks 150 years since the birth of Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi. Known worldwide for his approach to resisting British colonialism with nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi’s philosophy has also had a profound influence on figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. It is important that, 150 years after his birth, we celebrate and contemplate Gandhi the teacher, the activist, the scholar and the humanitarian in a way that provides a rich, full perspective on his life, work and legacy. This year, the Gandhi-King Lecture Series will include several speakers with expertise on Gandhi and culminate on Thursday, Oct. 3 with Barry Gan, world-renowned scholar and lecturer on nonviolence, delivering the Gandhi-King Lecture on International Relations and Peace Studies.

About the Speaker

Chinnaiah Jangam

Chinnaiah Jangam is an associate professor in the department of history at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. He holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the International Center for Advanced Studies at New York University. He was awarded the Felix Fellowship for doctoral studies and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Dissertation Fellowship. His research interests include South Asian social and intellectual history, Dalits and anti-caste epistemologies, race, gender and imperialism. His first book, “Dalits and the Making of Modern India,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2017.