Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beyond hallowed paradigms of lives

In an engagingly written preface to Venomous Touch, Ravikumar, the activist-theoretician of the dalit movement and general secretary of the Viduthalai Ciruthaikal Katchi (VCK), traces his intellectual journey from Lenin to Bakunin, Gramsci, Althusser, Derrida and Ambedkar. Reading books rather than party politics, he says, was what gave him the impetus to think and act. For scholars and activists interested in the question of caste, Ravikumar lays out a challenging roadmap, straddling two worlds — that of theory and activism. Azhagarasan’s passionate rendering of the original Tamil essays into English has allowed Tamil dalit politics to travel to other spaces.

Written over a period of time, Ravikumar’s essays reflect his wide-ranging interests. From culture to communalism, from education to literature, Ravikumar probes the collective consensus that is democratic India today. In her foreword to the book, the feminist scholar Susie Tharu describes her first encounter with Ravikumar and writes of being charmed by the light, almost easy way in which his Niraparikai group translated, used and disseminated theory. Ravikumar is located in the political moment that followed the break-up of the Soviet Union, the moment when other things happened: the rediscovery of Iyothee Thass, the emergence of Subaltern Studies and the translation of Ambedkar into the regional languages.

Full report here New Indian Express

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