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2017 3rd KINDAS International Seminar “Politics of Ignoring: Caste and Knowledge Production in Twentieth Century Malabar, India”

(Co-hosted by South Asia and Indian Ocean Studies Seminar)



【Date and Time】October 6 (Friday), 2017   16:00-18:00


【Venue】Conference Room (AA447), 4F, Research Building No.2, Yoshida Main Campus, Kyoto University

Access: http://www.kyoto-u.ac.jp/en/access/yoshida/main.html

(Building no.34 of the above map)


【Speaker】Prof. K.N. Sunandan (Assistant Professor, Azim Premji University, Bangalore)


【Title】Politics of Ignoring: Caste and Knowledge Production in Twentieth Century Malabar, India








By the end of the nineteenth century various caste groups in the Malayalam-speaking region of Keralam began actively participating in the colonial educational institutions.  Historians of the region have mapped various caste communities’ interactions with colonial knowledge under the category of community reform. Education was central to all the modern social reformers throughout India, starting from Jyotiba Phule to Ayyankali to upper caste Bengali reformers. Scholars considered community reform movements as reactions to the colonial attempts of modernization and modern education is central to this process of modernization. In other words, in a modernizing world, given an opportunity, every community and individual will seek knowledge, as knowledge is intrinsically connected to the natural desire of human beings for welfare and progress.

However, a close observation of the Asari (carpenter caste) world in the first half of the twentieth century tells us a different story.  In this period, by actively ignoring / avoiding the opportunities provided by the colonizers, Asaris resisted the temptations extended through various colonial institutions. Asaris neglected or avoided colonial intervention by maintaining carpentry as a practice of knowing, rather than transforming it as a process of production of knowledge. This lecture will explore the strategies through which Asaris mobilized the practice of ignoring and its affects and implications on the ‘progress’ of the community.


Profile of the speaker:


Prof Sunandan obtained his M.A. and PhD from the history department of Emory University, Atlanta, USA. He has Production engineering Degree from, Calicut University, M.A in Sociology from M.G. University Kottayam and M.Phil from the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Prior to joining Azim Premji University (APU), he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for the Studies of Developing Societies New Delhi, as part of the in the Transnational Research Group project on Education and Poverty in India funded by the Max Weber Foundation, Germany. He also taught at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tulajapur.

Sunadan’s research interest is spread over the various domains of ‘politics of knowledge.’ Comparing two caste communities in twentieth century Malabar, his PhD research explored the centrality of caste in the production of knowledge in colonial and postcolonial India. His research as part of the postdoctoral fellowship analyzed the concepts of mental and manual labour and its relation to caste practices in school education in Keralam. His other research interests include history of colonial-Brahmanical knowledge practices, history and philosophy of education in India, and science and technology studies.

At APU, he is part of School of Liberal Studies, where he teaches various common curriculum courses such as Understanding India and courses in History major for the undergraduate program. He is also part of the curriculum development in the above areas.




【Contact】KINDAS Office: indas_office[at]asafas.kyoto-u.ac.jp
*Please use @ in place of [at] when you will send E-mail to us.


(This seminar is free and all are invited. Yet those who plan to participate in it are requested to make a contact with the above office of ours, so that we can provide you handouts etc.)