Comparative studies of Caste and Race: Translating W.E.B. Du Bois

Book Project: Select works of Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois (A critical edition and annotated translation)

This book project undertakes the task of thematically curating and translating an anthology of eight annotated essays of W. E. B. Du Bois from English to Hindi. The project is funded by the Du Bois Fellowship (2019-2020) awarded by the W. E. B. Du Bois center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Massachusetts Amherst).  

There is a long history of linking struggles for Dalit (term is a political elaboration of “untouchables”) emancipation with Black struggles for emancipation in the U.S. In 1873 in the Bombay Presidency of British India, the anti-caste radical Jotirao Phule began his political pamphlet Gulamgiri (Slavery) with a dedication on the title page to Black struggles in the U.S. Almost hundred years later, in 1971, a militant group of Dalit poets and activists in Bombay (now Mumbai) founded the Dalit Panthers, and firmly linked their anti-caste radicalism to the Black Panthers and Black power in the U.S. The ten-point program in their 1972 manifesto spelled out clearly the links between the radical imaginary of Black power and Dalit politics. Though shortlived, the Dalit Panther movement was among the most revolutionary political formations of the 1970s. Its affect and idiom continues to animate contemporary Dalit politics in India.  

Radical Dalit politics has historically undertaken two forms of interpretive translations from Black politics. One, the translation of political programs and strategies of Black power for Dalit radicalism, and two, the translation of literary texts in service of this political process. It is within this mode of Dalit politics that I situate this project.