If you think that caste discrimination is a thing of the past, you hail from an upper caste. For many generations, the identities of lower-caste communities have been caged by the interpretations of upper-class misrepresentation. We know that the art of articulating language belongs to the powerful and that for eons, Brahminical linguistic and cultural hegemony has been misused to demonize the figure of the Dalit. Even though, in contemporary times, Dalit empowerment has made immense strides in subverting the power that was stolen by their oppressors and wielding it to carve out their own identity, the battle against caste discrimination is far from over.
A nation’s true marker of advancement is its collective thinking process. Thought precedes action. Only when our thoughts are emancipated can our actions can be wise. To change the thought process of a nation of 1.4 billion people is no small feat. It takes years and years of unconditioning, unlearning, and relearning. Although we have come a long way from what the abhorrent caste system used to be even half a century back, we still have miles to go as a nation and cannot stop until we have eradicated the seed of caste hatred from the minds of all our citizens. The only way to achieve that is through socio-politically conscious learning and the onus is primarily on the upper-caste members of Indian society to embrace it.
In the spirit of ushering in societal change, let us explore three insightful educational courses focused on creating anti-caste discourses in India:
Untouchable: An Initiative Of The Bombay Institute For Critical Analysis & Research (BICAR) Conducted by Professor Rohit Goel
This course will delve into the complex web of inquiries surrounding the concept of 'untouchability', approaching it from both analytical and historical perspectives, with the aim of exploring its ethical, political, and aesthetic implications. The exploration will commence with an analysis of the term 'untouchable' as a primal word, a linguistic signifier that carries a dual, contradictory meaning, akin to Freud's concept. For instance, the word 'to cleave' simultaneously signifies both 'to separate' and 'to join'. By examining the designation of someone or something as untouchable, the students will discover that it conveys more than a mere combination of opposites ('untouchable' + 'touchable'). Instead, it reveals a surprising and eventful 'flesh' that exists beyond the boundaries of being either untouchable or touchable. To fully comprehend this enigmatic essence, which forms the very foundation of universal subjectivity, the study will draw upon a dialectical materialist approach. The course will enable you to recognize how 'dialectical materialism' provides a solid foundation for genuinely emancipatory ethics, politics, and art.
(This course description has been taken from BICAR's official website.)
Diploma in Anti-Caste Mental Health Practises, 2024: An initiative of The Blue Dawn Project & Narrative Practices India(NPI)
While the previous course focused more on a theoretical approach, this course will arm you with the tools necessary for transformative mental health practices where every community is celebrated equally. By adopting a transformative approach, mental health practitioners can move beyond individualistic perspectives and recognize the broader social, cultural, and historical factors that contribute to caste-based discrimination. This approach acknowledges that mental health is not solely an individual concern but is intricately linked to social and structural inequalities. It recognizes the interplay between personal experiences of caste-based discrimination and the larger oppressive systems that perpetuate it. Transformative mental health practices can empower individuals from marginalized castes by providing them with a safe and supportive space to explore and express their experiences of caste-based discrimination. These practices can help individuals develop a critical understanding of the social and psychological impact of casteism, fostering a sense of agency and resilience.
Unlearning Caste Supremacy: A Workshop Series By Equality Labs
In 2015, Thenmozhi Soundararajan co-founded Equality Labs, a South-Asian Ambedkarite organization. The initiative focuses on addressing caste discrimination within the South Asian diaspora and has contributed to significant research on the issue. An integral part of the workshop conducted by them involves transcending geographical boundaries and including the South Asian diaspora within anti-caste discourse.
On May 2023 Equality Labs launched its Unlearning Caste Supremacy (UCS) Workshop Series, designed for caste-privileged individuals and allies. Led by trained facilitators and guided by their Executive Director, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, these online workshops raise awareness of casteism's history and anti-caste resistance movements. Participants gain practical resources and tools to challenge caste supremacy and promote equity. The series fosters collaboration across movements and supports the global movement to ban caste. The inclusive nature of our movement welcomes participants of all backgrounds, with a sliding scale fee to address income inequality. Although this year’s workshop was concluded in the month of May, there are more to come.
Click here to follow Equality Labs for updates on future workshops.