December 04, 2012

Event Announcement: Presentation


Dalits in America: Rendering Caste Visible in the Diaspora

Date & Time: Thursday, December 6, 2012; 7 pm

Venue: History Corner (Bldg 200), Room 203, Stanford University,

450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA

About the event: 

“Caste exists wherever Indians exist and … manifests itself in a myriad of ways,” writes Thenmozhi Soundararajan provocatively in a recent article. A second generation Indian American, Soundararajan describes Dalits as living “underground” in this country, “passing” among other Indians, surreptitiously communicating with each other and quietly supporting Dalit causes in India. Aligning with scholars who have compared untouchability in India with racism in the US, Soundararajan speaks of Black Indians and invisible communities. She will address the politics of Indian identities in America, the presence (and widespread denial) of caste consciousness and prejudice, and the often unrecognized contributions of Dalits to debates such as the 2005 controversy over representation of Hinduism in California school textbooks. “Coming out” as a Dalit in America means not only declaring your identity and fighting against discrimination, but also celebrating your culture. Soundararajan has taken up a a traditional Dalit vocation of singing and storytelling. A performer, filmmaker, and transmedia artist, she will include song and story in her presentation.

About the speaker:

Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a filmmaker, singer, and grassroots media organizer. As a second generation Tamil Untouchable Dalit woman, she strives to connect grassroots organizers with media resources that can widen their base of resistance. She is the Executive Director of Third World Majority, a women of color Media/Tech Justice training and organizing institution based in Oakland. She is also a co-founder of the Media Justice Network and Third World Majority is one of the network’s national anchor organizations. In that context she has worked with over 300 community organizations across the United States. She is currently working on her first Speculative Fiction Novel: The Distance Between You and Me Is the Empire.

Fee: This event is free and open to the public.

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