Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A conference is taking place on 'Dalit and Religion'

What  is  it  that  Dalits  seek  in  religion?  How  do  Dalits  perceive  themselves  in  relation  to  something Divine and , against this background, to other humans? How do they deal with the denial  of  access  to  certain  religious  practices  and  sites?  How  do  they  understand  religion?  How  do  the  problems  of  conceptualizing  “religion”  reflect  in  the  ways  the  relations  and  problems of Dalits with religion are being understood? What are the Dalits’ understandings of suffering  and  umiliation  on  the  one  hand,  of  social  recognition  and  human  dignity  on  the  other?  
Dalits  and  other  disadvantaged  people  had  to  negotiate  modes  of  religiosity  and  religious  power  structures  continuously,  as  they  had  to  negotiate  livelihood  issues ,  political  structures  and  the  relationships  with  dominant  others.  Dalits  had  to  face  humiliation  and  the  denial  of  acceptance  as  fellow  human  beings,  but  also  encountered  problems  when  trying  to  establish  spaces for themselves. At the same time, Dalits invented ideas, practices and agendas of their own.   Throughout   Indian   history  the   socio-religious   hierarchy   and   the   dominant,   even   hegemonic  religious  strands  and  traditions  have  been  accompanied  by  counter-imaginaries,  which  represent  universalistic  concepts  of  their  own,  but  which,  obviously,  have  never  become dominant.  
 The conference wants to view the field of religion in India from an angle that differs from the perspectives  enshrined  in  the  dominant  religious  discourses  that  control  the  important  religious   institutions.   At   the   same   time,   the   category   Dalit   covers   a   wide   range   of   discriminated, but differently positioned groups of people.  
The  relationship  between  Dalits  and  religiosity  has  so  far  not  been  systematically  discussed.  Starting  to  address  this  question  is  of  core  relevance  for  an  understanding  of  how  people  experiencing systematic discrimination engage with the world, as it is for an understanding of modern India.

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