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Dalit studies must move across disciplines: Sharmila Rege

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RECOGNITION: Sharmila Rege, Professor of Sociology, University of Pune (right), receives the Malcolm Adiseshiah award from Padmini Swaminathan, MIDS director, in Chennai on Tuesday. Photo: Shaju John
RECOGNITION: Sharmila Rege, Professor of Sociology, University of Pune (right), receives the Malcolm Adiseshiah award from Padmini Swaminathan, MIDS director, in Chennai on Tuesday. Photo: Shaju John

Special Correspondent

Academic emphasises need to put together interdisciplinary teaching

CHENNAI: The practice of Dalit studies must move within and across disciplines, back and forth between assumptions of theory, institutional spaces in academy and democratic struggles outside it, Sharmila Rege, professor of sociology, University of Pune, said on Tuesday.

"On this matter, there are several notes to be shared with feminist comrades in the academy for both Dalit and feminist studies have emerged through an interrogation of the canonical opposition between `scholarship' and `commitment,'" she said, after receiving the Malcolm Adiseshiah award for distinguished contribution to development studies at a function organised by the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS).

Prof. Rege made a case for Dalit studies as a "medium for interrogating misrecognition of the social world perpetuated by the dominant."

Noting that discussions on the matter were few, she said "we need more of loud thinking and sharing on the relationship between researchers and social movements and intellectuals and the academy."

Delivering a talk on Dalit studies as pedagogical practice, she said there was a need for putting together interdisciplinary teaching/learning materials to promote political and interpretative engagement with issues of caste and perspectives from Dalit collective struggles.

Uma Chakravarti, professor of history, called for greater research as to why women's question overrode the caste question in the 19th century.

She said the Hindi belt was generally not much affected by social reforms movement.

Padmini Swaminathan, MIDS director, who read out the citation of the award, said Prof. Rege contributed to sharpening the perspective on caste and gender by examining the differences and the connections of power that existed between women while also recognising what connected them as women.

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