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International Development Research @ Cambridge


A one day public conference and book launch featuring some of India’s leading public intellectuals and civil rights activists commenting on the inequalities faced by Dalits and Adivasis and their resistance.

Dalits and Adivasis – previously called ‘untouchable’ and ‘tribal’ – make up one in twenty-five people in the world. They remain at the bottom of India’s social and economic hierarchies, exploited as the most precarious of labour in the new economies, increasingly alienated by 'development' from what land they may once have had. Issues covered include economic growth, capitalism, labour and caste; tribal autonomy and land rights; the left and social oppression; media and the production of knowledge; and the forms of struggle and resistance.

Speakers include Sukhdeo Thorat, Anand Teltumbde, Virginius Xaxa, Gopal Guru, Joseph Bara, Kalpana Kannabiran, K Satyanarayana, Bhangya Bhukya, Javed Iqbal, Ruby Hembrom and Gautam Mody.


Conference and Launch Programme

10.00 – 10.15: Tea and Coffee

10.15 – 10.30: Introduction

10.30 – 11.45: Opening Panel

  • Sukhdeo Thorat. Professor Emeritus, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Former Chairman of the University Grants Commission and Indian Council of Social Science Research
  • “Graded Inequality and Caste Discrimination since 1993”
  • Joseph Bara. Independent Scholar
  • “Tribes, Land and the State: The Context of Amending the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949”
  • Chair: Alpa Shah. Associate Professor – Reader, Anthropology, LSE

11.45 - 13.00: Panel Two

  • Gopal Guru. Professor, Centre for Political Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • Caste as Carapace Rides on an Expansive Capitalism in Contemporary India"
  • Kalpana Kannabiran. Professor and Director, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad
  • The Contexts of Adivasi Dispossession: Explorations in Rights Advocacy in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana”
  • Chair: David Mosse. Professor, Anthropology, SOAS

13.00 – 14.00 – lunch break

14.00 – 15.15 – Panel Three

  • K. Satyanarayana. Professor, Department of Cultural Studies at the English and Foreign Language University, Hyderabad
  • The Naxalite Movements and the Caste Question: The Ideological Debate in the 1990s”
  • Bhangya Bhukya. Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Hyderabad
  • The Shades of the Adivasi Autonomy: Protectionism and Land and Forest Rights in Telugu Speaking Region”
  • Chair: Clarinda Still, Postdoctoral Research Officer, South Asian Studies, Oxford

15.15 – 15.30 – tea break

15.30 – 16.45 – Panel Four

  • Javed Iqbal. Independent Journalist and Photographer
  • “'The Limits of the Image': Examining Mainstream Editorial Practices Concerning Adivasi Struggles”
  • Ruby Hembrom. Founder and Director of Adivaani, publishing house of and by Adivasis
  • ‘Reclaiming the Reproduction of Adivasi Knowledge: The Lens of an Adivasi Publisher’
  • Chair: John Harriss. Professor, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University

16.45 – 18.00 – Round Table

  • Anand Teltumbde. Civil Rights Activist and Senior Professor, Goa Institute of Management
  • Virginus Xaxa. Professor of Eminence, Tezpur University, Assam and Bharat Ratna Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Chair
  • Gautam Mody. Secretary. New Trade Union Initiative, India
  • Chair: Jens Lerche, Reader, Development Studies, SOAS


18.00 –19.30 Book Launch in Brunei Gallery, SOAS @ the exhibition ‘Behind the Indian Boom’ - “Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in 21st Century India. Co-authored by Alpa Shah, Jens Lerche, Richard Axelby, Dalel Benbabaali, Brendan Donegan, Jayaseelan Raj, Vikramaditya Thakur.”

Introduced by Alpa Shah (Associate Professor – Reader of Anthropology, London School of Economics); Jens Lerche(Reader in Development Studies, SOAS); Jayaseelan Raj(Assistant Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, Kerala) & Richard Axelby (Senior Research Fellow, Anthropology, SOAS)

Discussed by:

  • Nathaniel Roberts. Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Gottingen
  • Virginius Xaxa. Professor of Eminence, Tezpur University, Assam and Bharat Ratna Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Chair


Please find further information and register here.


Saturday, 9 December, 2017 - 10:00 to 19:30
Event location: 
SOAS University of London, Djam Lecture Theatre, Main Building, London WC1H 0XG

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