Accepted Paper:

Caste, capitalism, and the "globalizing" of the Dalit movement  


Luisa Steur (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how since the Durban conference in 2001, Dalit activists' articulations of "caste" have been shaped by their engagement with "global civil society".

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores how the Dalit movement's turn toward transnational advocacy, commencing in preparation of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, affected political dialectics within the movement at large in the context of the most recent phase in India's capitalist path of development. It discusses how in the decade after Durban, activist understandings of "caste" have related to international civil society campaigns: how a recently emerging agenda of "Dalit budgeting", as part of international initiatives at "state accountability" and "budget transparency", relates to the earlier international Dalit discourse that focused on the eradication of "untouchability" as part of an international "human rights" effort. In particular the paper explores the different scales invoked by the two framings, the different ways these programs tie activists to the "grassroots", the way these frames affect the pendulum between caste eradication and caste assertion, and finally how they accommodate or confront the wider dynamic of capitalist development in "Shining" India.

Panel W067
The developmental turn in Dalit activism: disquieting caste and capitalism in contemporary India