[IIAS Workshop] Harnessing Counter-Culture to Construct Identity: Mapping Dalit Cultural Heritage in Contemporary India. Leiden, 7 – 8 December 2012

*** Apologies for Cross Posting ***

In order to critically engage with the emerging trajectories of Dalit cultural heritage, IIAS in collaboration with LIAS is organizing a two-day international workshop for which you are cordially invited.

Harnessing Counter-Culture to Construct Identity: Mapping Dalit Cultural Heritage in Contemporary India

7 – 8 December 2012

Leiden University, Faculty of Humanities, Lipsius Building (room 148), Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden

Prof. Ronki Ram, ICCR Professor of Contemporary India Studies, Leiden University Institute for Area Studies & International Institute for Asian Studies

About the seminar
Dalits in contemporary India are closely engaged in a herculean task of building their exclusive centres of Dalit cultural heritage at the local as well as national levels. Through this engaging but challenging process of constructing Dalit cultural heritage they are in fact exhibiting their dormant and long cherished will to build a separate Dalit identity which could help them gain dignity and visibility in the hitherto dominated public sphere in the mainstream Indian society. Dalits hardly figure anywhere in the most sought after popular centers of cultural heritage in India. They often attribute their conspicuous absence in the mainstream cultural heritage centers to their historic exclusion from the civil society as well as to the dominant discriminatory social structures that relegated them to the periphery in the name of low caste birth based as it was on Varnashramdhrama (four-fold Hindu social order). They also allege that their rich indigenous cultural heritage was deliberately made oblivious simply to keep them away from the corridors of power.

The nascent ongoing diverse Dalit cultural heritage project seems to coalesce tradition and modernity. In their (Dalits) concerted efforts of constructing Dalit cultural heritage, the tradition ceases to be a value of the past and the modernity loses its aura in the fast acclimatising present in the images of yesterdays. It is in this critical context that tradition and modernity are acquiring new meanings and nuances to the advantage of the socially excluded sections of the society. Consequently, this has led to a sort of perennial conflict between the hitherto dominant communities and the ex-untouchables who find in their resurfacing cultural heritage a hope of reclaiming their long-overdue share in the local/national structures of power.

Information and Registration
Registration is free of charge. Please visit our website for the programme and to register:

For more information please contact Ms. Titia van der Maas at t.van.der.maas@iias.nl

Fellowship Programme

Global Agenda

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The International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) is a research and exchange platform based in the university city of Leiden, the Netherlands. IIAS encourages the multidisciplinary and comparative study of Asia and promotes national and international co-operation. It acts as an interface between academic and non-academic partners including cultural, social and policy organisations.

IIAS | P.O. Box 9500 | 2300 RA | Leiden


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