Mechanism of oppression, Dalits and legal developments in India
There has been a tendency in caste studies to explain the origins and existence of caste, relying on structural approaches to explain how it is produced and by whom.
This paper seeks to step aside from such a focus in order to analyse enduring caste-based oppression of Dalits in India. To do so, I introduce the concept of mechanism of oppression, which means that upward social mobility is a trend that co-exists with atrocity. I suggest that the concept ‘mechanism of oppression’ follows up common sense explanations among Dalit activists and that it represents one realist approach to address ‘the Dalit question’ and caste exclusion. As an adequate starting point for analysing atrocities, this concept opens possibilities of understanding legal developments pertaining to the Scheduled Castes in India. The paper will refer to cases in Andhra Pradesh and lessons concerning dominance, atrocity and caste.
Dr Dag Erik Berg is a postdoctoral research fellow associated with the group on ‘Diversity and Inequality” at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), University of Göttingen, Germany. Before joining CeMIS, he was Associate Professor in Intercultural Studies at NLA University College, Norway and has been previously affiliated with University of Bergen and SOAS, London. Berg has published articles on Dalit movements in Andhra Pradesh, law and governance in India as well as caste and race in intercultural perspective. His ongoing book project is concerned with studying the Dalits in India and the relation between embedded social complexities of caste based oppression and the legal responses to redress social injustice. This presentation follows up his article in Asian Journal of Law and Society “Structural mechanism of oppression, law and the Dalit question in India” (2015).
This seminar series is organised with the support of the History Faculty.