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American Ambedkar scholar passes away in Minnesota

Dr. Eleanor Zelliot—Photo: Special Arrangement  

Noted American scholar Dr. Eleanor Zelliot, who wrote extensively on the Ambedkarite-Buddhist movement in India, passed away on Monday morning (Indian time) at her home in Minnesota, U.S. She was 89.

“One of her students called me to say that she passed away around 7.30 am,” Sudhir Waghmare, a Pune-based artist who was close to Ms. Zelliot and accompanied her on her research tours, told The Hindu .

Ms. Zelliot retired as a professor from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Her book Ambedkar’s World: The Making of Babasaheb and the Dalit Movement traces the workings of a caste society and the emergence of the Dalit movement in Maharashtra.

Mr. Waghmare said: “Ms. Zelliot arrived at Pune’s Deccan College in 1962 after she got permission to research here for two years. She was greatly interested in the socio-cultural history of Pune. She would attend public meetings and cultural programmes and sensed a change taking place in the form of the Dalit movement. I would take her to many Dalit villages around Pune on a bicycle. She understood the appeal of the Ambedkarite movement and the Dalit community’s zeal for education. She returned to the U.S. in 1965, but visited often. She later turned her attention to Dalit literature and the Bhakti movement.”

The Carleton College website describes her as a “specialist on the history of India, southeast Asia, Vietnam, women of Asia, untouchables, social movements” and “a prodigious scholar and a world renowned expert in the area of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the Untouchable Movement in India.”

Dr. Suresh Mane, a former professor and Head of Department of Law, Mumbai University, said, “She has contributed a lot to the Ambedkarite discourse and his emancipator politics as well as to the religion based on morality [Buddhism]. Her writings have exposed several dimensions of Ambedkar’s life and struggle to the western world. I met her in the US in 2010 and we discussed Ambedkar’s struggle for de-casting Indian society.”

The writer is a freelance journalist

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 1:51:17 AM |

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