4th Annual Conference on the Unfinished Legacy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar

*Abstract submission from U.S. deadline extended to 3/15/2018*
Reconfiguring Solidarities
around Caste and Race
University of Massachusetts, Amherst May 4-6, 2018

CALL FOR PAPERS
International Conference on Caste and Race: Reconfiguring Solidarities
The Unfinished Legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
*Conference website at http://engagement.umass.edu/crrs/node/36
The current historical moment is marked by a deep contradiction – the incredible success of wealth generating and power concentrating processes that depend on the unimaginable immiserating and marginalization of large swathes of humanity. Consequently, assertions of wealth, power, and oppressions, are met with incessant demands for equity, justice, and end to all forms of oppression the world over. If the arc of our moral universe is to “bend towards justice,” then it demands a constant relearning and reimagining of our connections, divergences, and convergence. Here, comparative possibilities of ‘caste’ in India and ‘race’ in the USA have generated much by way of historical imaginations, political solidarities, comparative strategies, and critical scholarship that have furthered our notions of justice, persistent inequities, and possibilities of liberation.

The comparative framework of race and caste also points to the complexity of navigating between the two. Recognizing the history of efforts in establishing this comparative framework in both theory and praxis – starting with the publication of Gulamgiri in 1870 by Jotiba Phule, the emergence of the “Caste School of race relations” in the 1930s/40s, the formation of the Dalit Panthers in the 1970s, and the many struggles around the Durban World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001 – this conference seeks to initiate a new conversation that both simultaneously acknowledges the incommensurabilities and yet the new possibilities of active solidarities.

Here two broad organizing categories – experience and capitalism – aid us towards new conversations. We will need to start with the category of comparative experiences and build towards the divergences and convergences that mark the structural / macro-scale of the social, political, economic and the cultural. Experience as a category offers itself as a crucial cauldron from which to think and build rich conversations through differences. While experiential domains bring out the individual’s (or personal) complex worlds of suffering, quest for dignity, and defiance, they also point to the broader contexts of the social (or public) and the structural (or systemic). Thus, the individual’s experience of suffering indignities frequently ruptures the veneer of ‘civil(ized)’ society in the form of public spectacles of hate, injustice, brutality. Attending to the mutual constitution of both experiential and structural could produce historically and geographically grounded forms of appreciation and solidarity.

For this conference, we have chosen the following themes to focus on:

THEME 1: Suicides and depression among Dalits and African American youth

This is a particularly intense and intimate form of experience of caste/race that appears to be on the rise in higher education contexts in the US and South Asia. We are interested in cross-disciplinary research that helps us make connections between mental health issues and broader structures of oppression and marginalization.

THEME 2: Lynchings, public humiliations, ‘atrocities,’ police brutality against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and African Americans

This is another experience that has now gained public attention due to becoming spectacularized via social media in both the USA and South Asia. Such acts have become quotidian and have produced collective gasps of the social conscience in both contexts.

THEME 3: Racial / Casteized Capitalism

Experiences of caste and race occur within accelerated form of rapacious and universalist capitalism. These are shaped fundamentally by particular forms of ‘racism’ in the US and ‘casteism’ in India, which require gendered relations and patriarchic forms of control. To help us move toward bringing together such experiences (intimate and public), we need to unpack the category of capitalism so that we are able to see how universalist objectives of accumulation and social reproduction are realized only through particular practices and processes operating through caste, race and gender.

We invite papers on any of the above three themes. The aim of the conference is to build a space for participants to have a generative conversation. It will therefore be oriented towards more sustained discussions rather than mere presentation of papers. We encourage advanced graduate students and junior faculty, especially from South Asia to participate.

Deadline for Submission

Abstracts of no more than 200 words must be submitted by March 15, 2018. To submit an abstract please email us at CasteRaceConf2018@gmail.com.

Conference will begin on the evening of Friday May 4 and conclude on the afternoon of Sunday May 6. Further details on the program and keynote speakers are forthcoming but we are building upon the draft schedule below:

2018 Theme: Caste & Race–Reimagining Solidarities Conference Schedule 

SKELETAL DRAFT
Friday May 4, 2018  

4:00 – 6:00 P.M.         Check-in / Registration

6:00 – 6:15 P.M.         Opening Remarks (Conference Organizing Committee)

6:15 – 8:15 P.M.         Opening Plenary

  1. Gopal Guru, JNU, Delhi (confirmed)
  2. Meena Dhanda, University of Wolverhampton, UK (confirmed)
  3. Race Studies scholar (to be confirmed)
  4. Chair / Moderator:

8:30 onwards              Reception

Saturday, May 5, 2018

8:00 – 9:00 A.M.        Check-in / Registration

9:00 – 9:15 A.M.        Opening Remarks (Conference Organizing Committee) [Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy confirmed]

9:15 – 10:40 A.M.      Plenary 2 (Experiencing Caste/Race: Psychosocial Domain of Oppression)

  1. Shailaja Paik, University of Cincinnati (confirmed)
  2. Scholar to confirm
  3. Scholar to confirm
  4. Chair / Moderator:

10:40 – 11:00 A.M.    Tea / Coffee

11:00 – 12:30  P.M.    Concurrent Sessions 1

12:30 – 1:30 P.M.       Lunch – New Authors Panel

  1. Sujatha Gidla, NYC (confirmed)
  2. Chinnaiah Jangam, Canada (confirmed)
  3. Chris Tinson (Hampshire college)
  4. Toussaint Lossier (Du Bois Dept/UMass)

1:30 – 3:00 P.M.         Plenary 3 (Everyday Violence of Caste/Race: Lynching, Incarceration…)

  1. Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi, Anthropology, Rutgers U (not confirmed**)
  2. Chandraiah Gopani, G. B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad U (confirmed)
  3. To be confirmed
  4. Chair/Moderator:

3:00 – 3:15 P.M.         Tea / Coffee

3:15 – 4:45 P.M.         Concurrent Sessions 2

5:00 – 6:15 P.M.         Plenary 4 (Youth and Anti-Caste & Anti-Racism Organizing)

  1. Jignesh Mewani, Dalit activist, Gujarat (confirmed)

6:30 – 7:30                  Conference Dinner hosted by the Boston Study Group

7:30- 8:30                    Cultural Program hosted by Boston Study Group

Sunday May 5, 2018

9:00 – 10:30 A.M.      Plenary 4 (Racialized / Casteized Capitalism)

  1. Anand Teltumbde, Goa University (confirmed)
  2. Racialized capitalism – speaker (to be confirmed)
  3. Chair / Moderator:

10:30 – 10:45 A.M.    Tea / Coffee

10:45 – 12:15 P.M.     Concurrent Sessions 3

12:30 – 2:30 P.M.       Working Lunch on Activism and Caste Politics in the Diaspora (workshop led by Meena Dhanda, UK)

2:30 – 2:45 P.M.         Closing Remarks (Conference Organizing Committee)

For more information contact Amilcar Shabazz, Du Bois Chair & Professor of Afro-American Studies.

Panther image courtesy http://www.mediavigil.com/document/history-of-dalit-panther/

REPARATIONS: From Conversation to ACTION

 
 
Nationally and locally in the United States, we see political leaders who in both word and deed are seeking to exploit racial divisions through using racist language and by enacting legislation negatively targeting Black, Brown, and Indigenous populations. These cynical and destructive actions feed cycles of increasing racial inequity with respect to employment, education, housing, and other socioeconomic indicators. Against this backdrop, what are the possibilities for reparative action and are there any signs of forward progress? The FOR or Fellowship of Reconciliation has organized a panel of leading global thinkers and organizers on reparations for slavery and the racial oppression of people of African descent to discuss how to move from informed concern to action.  Register now to join a public conversation with 6 distinguished speakers:
* Dr. Iva Carruthers, General Secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (Chicago IL) * Rev. Lucas Johnson, Coordinator, International FOR (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) * Jodie Geddes, President, Coming to the Table Board of Managers (Oakland CA) * Dr. Amilcar Shabazz, Vice President, National Council for Black Studies (Amherst MA)
The panel will be co-moderated by: * Chrissi Jackson, Co-Director, The Truth Telling Project (San Diego CA) * Dr. David Ragland, Senior Bayard Rustin Fellow, FOR (Brooklyn NY / St. Louis MO)
 
Click http://bit.ly/2n12ekV to learn more about how to register to join the discussion that takes place Jan 30, 2018, at 7:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)  

Shabazz and Horne on Harambee Radio

Dr. Gerald Horne, University of Houston, and Dr. Amilcar Shabazz, University of Massachusetts, discuss the current situation in Zimbabwe on The Harambee Radio and Television Network. From the First Chimurenga to the recent “coup that was not a coup,” these eminent historians talk about the  the rise and fall (golden handshakes an all) of Robert Gabriel Mugabe [Run time 1 hour, sixteen minutes; Date: 11/30/2017].

Gerald Horne, among many other books, is the author of From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980 (UNC Press, 2001). Amilcar Shabazz, Vice President of the National Council for Black Studies, is the co-editor of Women and Others Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Empire with Celia Daileader and Rhoda Johnson.

Toward a Racial Justice Institute at UMass Amherst

Governor disapproved of the following item, for message see House, No. 4505
The Legislature overrode the Governor’s action | 1599-7114 | $500,000
For a reserve for the costs associated with the UMass Center at Springfield; provided, that not less than $250,000 shall be provided for the establishment of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Center for the Study of Racial Justice & Urban Affairs, in Springfield

Notes on Racial Justice

We envision a professorship of racial justice that could unite several disciplines, interdisciplinary professional fields of study, and allied interdisciplinary studies departments and programs. Race, in particular, has public health, legal, public policy, organizational, educational, economic, environmental, psychological, and heritage dimensions that are studied and taught at UMass, especially in community engaged ways. This work, however, largely remains disintegrated and is carried out in our academic silos. The University needs to follow best practices in higher education and begin to develop an integrated strategy. For many reasons UMass is uniquely situated to be a leader in a more integrated approach. As one of the earliest research universities to massively invest in creating a premier Africana studies department with the power to confer degrees and award tenure to a faculty that at one time had more than twenty full time tenure system professorships we have a great legacy in pioneering the systematic and engaged study of race and its attendant problems and power dynamics. What can we learn from that legacy that can be applied to today’s higher educational realities?

First, when Eurocentric, logocentric, managerial, and neoliberal agendas dominated the concerns and attention of other departments and the study and teaching of race on its own academic turf or academic ghetto, as it were, was generally regarded as a more or less harmless use/waste of resources to help lift up (or manage) the unfortunate dark student presence that affirmative action policies and autonomous struggles had begun to increase their numbers on the campus in dramatic ways in the late 1960s and 1970s. The UMass music department, for example, had little to no serious interest in jazz and other contributions of African Americans and dark humanity to the development of music theory and practice until Bezanson, with the help of Randolph Bromery, recruited Fred Tillis here in 1970.

Straight Talk on the Crisis of Police Violence

Izielen Agbon, my brother, comrade and fellow student of political economy in the University of Texas’ Economics Department, introduced me in the latter part of 1979, to a woman who would have a profound impact on my life. Dorothy Turner was the president of the Black Citizens Task Force in Austin, Texas, and she was organizing daily demonstrations in response to a crisis in the community that arose from two yt police officers murdering a black man named Gril Couch in cold blood. They were in plainclothes and got into it with the brother and put him in a chokehold whereby they strangled the life out of him. That is how I got down with the black community in East Austin in the fight to say #BlackLivesMatter
Spark4_1987

Sources

Demetria C. Howard-Watkins, “The Austin, Texas African-American Quality of Life Initiative as a Community of Inquiry: An Exploratory Study.” MPA thesis. Spring 2006.
https://digital.library.txstate.edu/bitstream/handle/10877/3479/fulltext.pdf?sequence=1

Jordan Smith, “Dorothy T. Goes Home Fiery, feisty queen of Austin civil rights activists is recognized, remembered.” The Austin Chronicle, April 22, 2005.
http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2005-04-22/267663/

Black Citizens Task Force Records: An Inventory to the Collection
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/aushc/00391/ahc-00391.html

Dorothy Charles Banks, “Velma Roberts: East Austin civil rights activist and all-around hell raiser.” Poet With An Opinion blog, October 27, 2012.
http://dcbanks.blogspot.com/2012/10/velma-carter-roberts-east-austin-civil.html

The struggle at Colony Park continues
http://www.thedailyphalanx.net/2016/04/dorothy-turner-august-1980-we-want.html

ACAC Historical Footage with clips of Ms. Turner (look at 4:07 minutes into video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah_0W0MGf38

“After the Convention: Analysis & Commentary.” Liberation, Summer 1988.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq8SkkbLS0A

Message from the Grassroots

Recreation Center named in honor of Roberts and Turner
https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Parks/Recreation_Centers/turnerroberts_factsheet.pdf

Public art tribute http://www.publicartarchive.org/work/overtonturnerroberts-memorial

“BCTF Pays Tribute to Turner, Roberts.” The Villager, 2015.
http://www.theaustinvillager.com/current/page8_Feb27.pdf