Cite as: Christoph Holzhey, Introduction to the lecture Suraj Yengde, A Modern History of Caste, ICI Berlin, 15 November 2021, video recording, mp4, 07:49 <>
15 Nov 2021


By Christoph Holzhey

Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:07:49
First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin

Part of the Lecture

A Modern History of Caste / Suraj Yengde

The theory of caste and the antecedent hierarchical system has received growing interest in the past two centuries. In contemporary times, there has been a surge among researchers and scholars to locate the category of caste. Various theories have tried to base the ‘origins’ of caste in religion, society, or Indian culture since the arrival of Aryans in the Indian subcontinent (2000 BCE). This talk will look at the episodes of making caste a category of modern interest during colonial times. By centring attention on the experiences of Dalits and untouchability it reframes the approach and examines the development of anti-caste body-politics through the rise of popular Dalit social and political movements. This version of caste history departs from the reliance on the orientalist and occidental interpretations of Indian society, and inserts new theories of caste politics.

Suraj Yengde’s recent appointment was a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School He is currently a research associate at the department of African and African American Studies, and a non-resident fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, and as well part of the founding team of the Initiative for Institutional Anti-Racism and Accountability (IARA) at Harvard University. He has studied on four continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, North America), and is India’s first Dalit PhD holder from an African university (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg). Suraj Yengde is an International Human Rights attorney by qualification from India and the UK, and has published over 100 essays, articles, and book reviews in multiple languages in the field of caste, race, ethnicity studies, and labour migration in the global south. Named one of the ‘25 Most Influential Young Indians‘ by GQ magazine and the ‘Most influential Young Dalit’ by Zee, Suraj is the author of Caste Matters (2019) and co-editor (with Anand Teltumbde) of the award winning anthology The Radical in Ambedkar (2018). His forthcoming books are Caste: A New History of the World (2022), and a biography of B. R. Ambedkar (2022).


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)

Organized by

ICI Berlin