Event / Webinar on “Global Christianity and the Transformation of Dalits in Colonial and Postcolonial Kerala” at KCHR, Thiruvananthapuram

The Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) invites you to a Webinar on  Global Christianity and the Transformation of Dalits in Colonial and Postcolonial Kerala’ by Professor P. Sanal Mohan.

Date: 10 July 2020 (Friday)

Time:3:00pm (IST)

You can join the webinar with a valid Gmail id using the following link from 2.45 pm onwards on 10th July 2020. There is no separate registration process.


The webinar will be recorded and you can watch the Live Stream at


About the Speaker: Professor P. Sanal Mohan currently teaches at the School of Social Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam. He was the former Director of the KCHR. He was Smuts Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Post-Doctoral Visiting Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen, Germany, among others. His areas of research interest include colonial modernity, social movements and questions of identity, Dalit movements and Christianity in India His book Modernity of Slavery: Struggles against Caste Inequality in Colonial Kerala was published by the Oxford University Press in 2015.

About the Lecture: The Transforming power of the ‘word of God’ proclaimed the globality of Christianity experienced by Dalits in colonial and postcolonial Kerala. What were the implications of the word of God in the everyday life of Dalits where meaning was produced and circulated along with the work in the fields of the landlords? Christianity provided a different  idea of the sacred and a new religious and social imagination to the people. It was this notion of the sacred that resignified Dalits as socially significant from the 19th century onwards. I wish to address the dynamics of this resignification exploring archival and ethnographic materials. Although Christianity entailed globality in its very inception, in this paper I am specifically concerned with Global Missionary organizations founded in the final years of the 18th Century and their tryst  with Dalit communities in Kerala.

Shared to KSM by Ashok R. Chandran, Publications Officer, MIDS, Chennai.

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Journal article (OA) / The Social History of Caste Colonies in Kerala

Pramod, Maya. ‘As a Dalit Woman: My Life in a Caste-Ghetto of Kerala’. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion 1, no. 1 (February 2020): 111-24.
Abstract: It is awfully significant to enquire how the lower casts Dalit women have read about socio-economic and cultural aspects of Dalit colony life, that have changed our life and society.
I argue that the colonies serve as an index of their inferior social status. It serves more of their ghettoisation than for their empowerment. It further distances them from society and helps to appropriate their labour.
This is the continuation of the age-old practice of caste discrimination and deprivation that kept them away from the mainstream while appropriating their labour for the general development of society.
This paper focuses on the rereading of social norms which evolved through my probing of the social history of ‘caste colony’ as part of my research, especially in Dalit women.
More info and full text (OA): https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v1i1.69
Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup
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Journal article / Performative Egalitarianisms and Genealogies of the Human in Travancore

Narayan, Vivek V. ‘Mirrors of the Soul: Performative Egalitarianisms and Genealogies of the Human in Colonial-era Travancore, 1854-1927’. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion 1, no. 1 (February 2020): 125-54.

Abstract: Scenes of avarna castes (slave and intermediate castes) pondering their reflections recur throughout the history of anti-caste struggle in the princely state of Travancore in colonial-era south India.
These scenes represent what I will call performative egalitarianisms, which are repetitive enactments in the performance of everyday lives that embody claims to equality against the dehumanising caste codes of colonial Travancore.
In this paper, I will describe three scenes that represent distinct yet intertwined routes for the flows of egalitarian discourses in colonial Kerala.
The concept of equality emerged in Travancore, first, via Enlightenment values of the British Protestant missionaries, or soulful Enlightenment; second, as non-dualistic equality of Narayana Guru, or repurposed Advaita; and third, through the discourses and practices of a Tamil religious cult called Ayya Vazhi, or radical Siddha Saiva.
In viewing the flows of egalitarian discourse through the lens of performance, I demonstrate the method of intellectual histories in the repertoire which allows us to investigate how particular conceptual frameworks and discursive modes are transmitted, transformed, and embodied by people for whom these ideas are, quite literally, a matter of life and death.
The intentional, productive, and empowering relationship between universals such as equality or humanity and the particular claims of anti-caste struggle in Kerala leads to a politics of practice that I describe as repurposing universals.
The centrality of the notion of the human in the anti-caste politics of colonial-era Travancore leads me to refer to these flows of egalitarian discourses and the political struggles that they empowered as genealogies of the human.
In sum, I analyse the genealogies of the human in colonial-era Travancore by focussing on three scenes exemplifying performative egalitarianisms: soulful Enlightenment, repurposed Advaita, and radical Siddha Saiva.
More info and full text (OA): https://doi.org/10.26812/caste.v1i1.96
Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup
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Journal article / Fatherhood and the Dynamics of Masculinity in Malayalam Cinema

Mokkil, Navaneetha. ‘Sleepless Fathers in Malayalam Cinema: Unraveling the Dynamics of Caste and Masculinity’. South Asian Popular Culture. Published ahead of print, 03 March 2020.

Abstract (edited): This paper explores the formations of masculinity and its links to the perceived vulnerability of young women’s sexualised bodies by focusing on popular Malayalam cinema.
I will specifically undertake a reading of Achanurangatha Veedu (A Home in which the Father Cannot Sleep, 2006) and deploy my analysis of Drishyam (Sight, 2013) as a point of contrast. In both these films, the primary focus is on fathers who are compelled to act in order to protect their adolescent daughters from sexual violence.
The marginalised Dalit Christian father in Achanurangatha Veedu is mired in humiliation and physical breakdown as his search for justice ends in failure.
In Drishyam, on the other hand, the father, who belongs to an upper caste and middle-class location, acquires heroic proportions as he launches a thrilling set of operations to safeguard the realm of domesticity.
My analysis shows how in Achanurangatha Veedu the viewer is constantly buffeted between identification with the victimised father and a possibility of distancing where we step back and watch the spectacle of pathos.
I argue that the film offers a possibility of critiquing social hierarchies in instances where we slip out of both of these modes of viewing and inhabit a more contingent and disorienting position.
My focus is on the visual and aural transactions through which masculinity is reassembled in cinema and the practices of spectatorship it engenders.
Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup
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