Conceptualizing Dalit Historiography

Conceptualizing Dalit Historiography



Professor Gopal Guru

(Editor, Economic and Political Weekly 


Former Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)


Date: 16th April, 2021 (Friday) at 3.00 p.m


Recorded Video


The presentatation aims to look at historiography as a method that can be deployed to establish the Dalit conceptual claim to take charge of history and make it their own. The main focus of the presentation is to work out the possibility of Dalit historiography that could be developed around four aspects. First, it would foreground its conceptual validity in the interrogation of the mainstream historiography. Second, an attempt to conceptualize dalit historiography would make it necessary to centrally factor in the discursive moves that are aimed at offering different interpretation of emancipatory impulses that are available in Indian history. Third, the dalit historiography announces its arrival by proposing new historical thesis and making sound  arguments that sustain stipulative protocols in particular regard to annihilation of caste. Finally, Dalit historiography as the methodological protocols does provide historical thesis  as proposed by Ambedkar.  The new historical thesis are in Ambedkar’s ideas such Dalits are part but they are part apart, they are the broken men of history. This has its origin in Ambedkar’s historiographical speech that he made in 1935. He said, “I was born as Hindu but will not die as Hindu”. 

About the speaker

Professor Gopal Guru retired from the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Currently he is the Editor of Economic and Political Weekly. Prof. Guru’s engagements with caste as an analytical category transformed Social Science writing and theorising. He is one of the foremost thinkers and theorists of Indian political processes. He has authored several books and specialises in political theory and philosophy. His research includes significant works on Indian political processes and the politics of multiculturalism. Caste and Dalit politics have remained his core areas of interest during his long academic career. One of his earlier edited works, Humiliation: Claims and Context helped rethink the idea of ‘experience’ and is a very important contribution in the discipline. This was developed further in the set of essays in The Cracked Mirror: An Indian Debate on Experience and Theory, which he co-authored with Sundar Sarukkai, where the two debate on the importance of Dalit experience as a category to evolve new theoretical frameworks in Indian social sciences.