Ambedkar’s Agonism: Caste as Sovereign Violence and Pakistan as Peace

Tuesday Seminar
Shruti Kapila
Date and Time: 
Tue, 17/09/2019 - 12:00am
03:30 PM to 05:00 PM

In focusing primarily on B.R. Ambedkar, this talk will reconstruct and interpret the work of hostility and antagonism that was central to his political thought and writings. As a thinker, Ambedkar remained singular in taking account of the full and potential measure of violence predominantly in caste relations but beyond in the comparative contexts of revolutions and formations of nation-states in the modern world. I reconstruct and interpret Ambedkar here as a foundational thinker of sovereignty, republicanism and agonism as opposed to justice or even liberalism. In so doing, I analyse in the same analytic rubric, his writings on caste and Pakistan and the salience of separation to his political thought. Violence, power and antagonism are elaborated here as these were redirected to agonistic ends for the assumption of republicanism. The consideration of Pakistan as a political idea, it argues needs to be understood in relation to the historic source of sovereignty as Ambedkar uncovered it in the figure of the Brahmin as a dispersed monarchy. Singular in his apprehension of radical futurity of the idea of Pakistan, this talk intervenes in and contributes to global political thought and modern Indian history and the formation of Pakistan

Dr Shruti Kapila researches and teaches modern Indian history and global political thought at the Faculty of History and is Fellow and Director of Studies at Corpus Christi College at the University of Cambridge. She was educated at Punjab University where she was university topper, JNU and SOAS and prior to Cambridge, she has held academic appointments at Oxford University and Tufts University. Widely published she is author and editor of An Intellectual History for India (CUP, 2010) and co -editor Political Thought in Action: Bhagavad Gita and Modern India (CUP, 2013). Her publications cover the range of themes and concepts from psychoanalysis, race, science and violence have appeared in top journals including Past and Present, Modern Intellectual History, Public Culture and also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of History of Ideas. Her book Violent Fraternity: Global Political Thought in the Indian Age will be published by Princeton University Press early next year (2020). She also does commentary for national and international media.