PUBLIC LECTURE SERIES by Professor Saurabh Dube D.D. Kosambi Chair Professor, Goa University (Distinguished Research Professor of History, CEAA, El Colegio de México, Mexico) from 9th to 11th January, 2018

  • I N V I T A T I O N


    Visiting Research Professors Programme

    D D Kosambi Chair in Interdisciplinary Studies


    Department of History, Goa University


    Professor Saurabh Dube

    D.D. Kosambi Chair Professor, Goa University

    (Distinguished Research Professor of History, CEAA, El Colegio de México, Mexico)



    Time Venue Topic
    9th Jan 2.30 PM Seminar Hall Unsettling Art: A Dalit Expressionist Iconography
    10th Jan 11.00 AM ICG, Donapaula Rethinking Dalit Religions
    11th Jan 2.30 PM Seminar Hall

    Identity and Modernity: Empire, Nation, History


    For Details visit:




    Ramrao Wagh            Prof Nagendra Rao   Prof Pratima Kamat,

    VRPP Coordinator    Coordinator      Head, Dept of History



    • Unsettling Art: A Dalit Expressionist Iconography 

    This paper shall explore issues of  iconography and imagination in the work of Savindra (“Savi”) Sarkar, an important, contemporary expressionist and dalit artist. Savi is a Mahar, a neo-Budhist from Nagpur, who lives and works in Delhi now. Central to his iconography and imagination are very particular representations of religiosity and hierarchy, history and the here-and-now. The sources are overlapping and distinct, poignant and varied. Moving recitals of untouchable pasts by Savi’s unlettered paternal grandmother. Liturgical lists drawn up within the political movement led by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar concerning the disabilities faced by untouchables, especially under Brahman kingship in western India in the eighteenth century. Haunting lore of dalit communities deriving from different regions of India. Passionate parables regarding the life and times of Dr. Ambedkar and of other (major and minor) dalit protagonists. Telling tales of Buddhist reason. Sensorial stories from dalit literature. And Savi’s own experiences as an artist, an activist, and a dalit in distinct locales, from statist spaces in New Delhi, to remote places of gender and caste oppression in rural and semi-urban India. My paper would explore how Savi seizes upon these discursive and experiential resources, of faith and reason, sieving them through the force of an expressionist art, in order to construe thereby icons and imaginings, a religiosity and an ethic that are contestatory yet complex, strong yet sensitive.


    • Rethinking Dalit Religions

    This paper shall present a synoptic view of Dalit religions, registering that such discussions turn on charged questions. The questions reach back to the pasts of scholarly debate. Does the extreme impurity of the Dalits place them outside the caste order? Do they have their entirely separate religions? Or, does the very ritual lowness of the Dalits hierarchically yet vitally link them to other castes through an encompassing, consensual caste ideology of purity and pollution? Is their religion, then, primarily a lower form of that of those higher up in the caste order? The debate that is reflected by these queries appears jaded today: yet, the questions continue, precisely as part of the more recent ferment in writing and claims on/of Dalits

    This paper shall make a case for considering the ritual hierarchy of purity and pollution as always entwined with matrices of ritual kingship, colonial governance, non-Brahman religions, and the modern state in the shaping of caste, including especially Dalit formations. To do so is to register terms of power and meaning as lying at the core of caste and Dalit religions. It is also to avow the creation by Dalits of novel meanings and distinctive practices. The paper shall equally critically consider various scholarly and commonplace positions stressing the radical disjunction of Dalit norms and practices from the caste order. Such assertions tend to curiously underplay the manner in which the ideologies and relationships of caste not only unequally exclude Dalits from several processes but also hierarchically include them in other arrangements. Further, they underplay the expressions of hierarchy and authority within Dalit religions themselves, including in practices of endogamy, occupation, commensality, and interactions with other lower castes.

    My principal point is that questions of Dalit religions do not admit singular solutions. Shaped as part of wider hierarchies and relationships of caste, which differ from one region to another, these religions show marked regional variations. However, even within a particular region, Dalit formations can find distinct expressions in different locales depending on the distribution of landownership and arrangements of authority among castes that diverge across villages. It only follows that, far from being static and timeless, Dalit religions have undergone profound changes through historical processes of state formation, agrarian and urban alterations, and political transformations. The salience of Dalit meanings and practices is found precisely within such variety and change. At stake in such discussion, then, is not merely empirical-historical variety, but critical considerations.


    • Identity and Modernity: Empire, Nation, History

    This talk discusses issues of identity and modernity by basing itself on an array of historical and anthropological writings as well as on varieties of social and critical theory. Specifically, I render these understandings, including against their own assumption, as bearing distinctive expressions of space and time. Thus, I approach identities as referring to broad-ranging temporal-spatial processes of formations of subjects, intimating at once particular personhoods and collective groupings. Here, identities comprise a crucial means through which such processes are perceived, experienced, and articulated. Indeed, defined within cultural-temporal and socio-spatial relationships of production and reproduction, appropriation and approbation, and power and difference, cultural identities (and their mutations) appear as essential elements in the quotidian constitution (and routine transformations) of social worlds. It follows that I untangle cultural/historical identities, grounded in space/time, as constitutive of colony and empire, history and community, and nation and modernity across the continents. Such an understanding not only militates against the attribution of an inescapable, a priori particularity to identity, but it actively uncovers the spatial segregations and temporal hierarchies that attend mappings of modernity.



    Saurabh Dube (PhD, Cantab 1992) is Research Professor in History, Centre for Asian and African Studies, El Colegio de México, and also holds the highest rank in the National System of Researchers (SNI), Mexico. He has been a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York; the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick; the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla; the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study, South Africa; and the Max Weber Kolleg, Germany. Apart from around 150 journal-articles, book-chapters, and academic reviews, Dube’s authored books includeUntouchable Pasts (1998, 2001); Stitches on Time (2004); After Conversion (2010); and Subjects of Modernity (2017). He has also written a quintet in historical anthropology in the Spanish language, published (2001-2017) by El Colegio de México. A 700-page anthology of Dube’s writings in Spanish is due out in 2018. Among his fifteen edited and co-edited volumes are Postcolonial Passages (2004); Historical Anthropology (2007); Enchantments of Modernity (2009); and Crime through Time (2013). Dube has been visiting professor several times at institutions such as Cornell University and the Johns Hopkins University, and was recently elected to the DD Kosambi Chair in Interdisciplinary Studies of Goa University.