South Asia

Organized Panel Session

32 - Genealogies of Dravidianism: From Geography to Egalitarianism

7/6/2018
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Tamarind, New Building

The Indian South, geographically known as Dravida and enlisted so in the national anthem of the country, is remarkable for its demographic proportion, antiquity and the historical ties to regions of Asia. The term has been, in 20th century, a key to a new political imagination in Tamil Nadu, a state of seventy million people with a strong global diaspora. It is alleged to have been the effect of orientalist scholarship that promoted the racial imaginary of the pre-historic drama of encounter between Aryan migrants from Central Asia and Dravidian natives of the subcontinent. The Aryans had ties to Europe and the Dravidians perhaps to the darker races of Africa.

While the politics of Dravidianism may have borrowed from the speculative thrust of such racialized narratives of the past, in its own configurations of the past Dravidianism created a much larger ethos of egalitarianism and pluralization as its defining feature. While championing non-Brahmin egalitarianism and Tamil identity, the Dravidian politics configured figures of the past in such ways as to broaden the political imagination. The panel will focus on three important figures that have received an interesting treatment in the popular historiographic, architectural and media interventions of the Dravidian movement. The sixteenth-century founder of Maratha empire Shivaji, the author of the classic Tamil text Thirukkural, named Thiru Valluvar and the twelfth-century Vaishnavite philosopher Ramanuja have all been re-created as emblematic figures of social justice through various articulations as genealogies of Dravidian past.   

Presentations:

Ravindran Sriramachandran

Ashoka University, India

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Rajan Krishnan

Ambedkar University Delhi, India

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Ravindran Sriramachandran

Ashoka University, India

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Jayashree Venkatadurai

Avinashilingam Deemed University for Women, India

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Karthick Manaoharan

Centre for the Studies in Social Sciences, India

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