The Syllabus

This syllabus assembles a wide variety of readings, both historical and contemporary, in order to enable scholarship in the emerging field of Critical Caste and Technology Studies. In particular, this syllabus analyses caste expression and oppression as a form of everyday communicative practice especially in the digital age. This syllabus is not a simple roadmap for a class schedule, rather, it has been designed as a broad-ranging collection of sources, categorised into thirteen topical threads, to be taken up as a resource by students and educators.

Each topic is deliberately focused and does not claim to be exhaustive. The reading lists are annotated, where possible and appropriate, to share context, significance, and the rationale for inclusion. The syllabus is not always alphabetised, especially when it introduces a new conceptual thread. We hope that this will enable the instructor to select reading materials tailored to different topics.

Finally, this syllabus is rooted in anti-caste political position. The academic objectivity of this syllabus lies in its accountability to stand in solidarity with Dalits, oppressed caste groups and other social minorities.

Each strand’s reading list aims to ensure that students have a nuanced understanding of the relationship between benign interactions and brutal manifestations of everyday casteism. Furthermore, the students will be able to appreciate that the decolonial is not restricted to changing (Western) regimes but is also a continuous liberatory struggle against oppressors within one's “home,” as demonstrated by Dalit resistance movements’ protests.

This section outlines pioneering work by anti-caste reformers, leaders, and philosophers including Babasaheb Ambedkar, Jyotirao Phule, and Periyaar E.V Ramasamy. This thread situates the scholarship, philosophies, and practices of pioneering Dalit scholar-activists within the scope of communication studies.    Full Annotated Reading List

Anti-caste reformers held the view that Indian freedom movement was essentially a “Hindu India” project. Romanticising Indian villages and reimagining India as a Hindu goddess were some of the key strategies of Indian freedom movement.    Full Annotated Reading List

Like all other protected categories, caste affects the dignity, status, and safety of women and other disadvantaged/non-normative genders. Evidence for the unequal relations between cis men and all other genders are often seen in and normalised through social rituals and religious scriptures. Family and workplace are often vehicles of power that can assert a range of caste-based violence in the everyday lives of women, especially Dalit women, transgender and non-binary people. They are often exploited and subjected to 'multiple and interconnecting oppressions' (Kapadia 2017) because of their caste, class, gender, "ability", and religion.    Full Annotated Reading List

Print and television media houses in South Asian societies are mostly owned and controlled by families of more privileged castes (Patel, 2009). Robin Jeffrey, a media scholar, could not find a single Dalit journalist in the entire country during the 1990s. There is still no Dalit-run mainstream media or Dalit chief editor in India.    Full Annotated Reading List

More Dalits and Bahujans in the newsroom can be a step forward, but it does not necessarily guarantee more caste-sensitive media organisations. In the world of media dynasties, mere journalistic representation might not mean much because the power of editorial structures depend on caste-oriented media capital.    Full Annotated Reading List

Critical Race and Digital Studies syllabus contributed to assemble this section.    Full Annotated Reading List

Caste and race are often thought of as analogous categories. However, they are hardly discussed together despite a shared history of oppression, humiliation, selective privilege by oppressors, identity-based solidarity politics and collective resistance.    Full Annotated Reading List

“If Hindus migrate to other regions on earth, Indian caste would become a world problem", wrote Ambedkar in 1916. It is estimated that nearly 4.5 million South Asians and others live in the UK and 5.4. million in the US (IDSN UK source to check and provide link) are attributed to caste. Historically, the British Indian Indentureship (which lasted till the 1920s) system transported the south Asian population to Fiji, Mauritius, the Caribbean, Seychelles, and East and South Africa.    Full Annotated Reading List

“Modernists” often argue that democracy, economy, capital and science and technology brought modern forms of social interactions that have given rise to caste-anonymity. Believers in modernity indicated that castes were moving out of their traditional occupations by entering competitive market domains and democratic politics. Sociologist Béteille claimed that India’s destiny was not caste in stone. However, the reality is far from this wishful analysis.    Full Annotated Reading List

In the past, scholars predicted the erosion of caste as material changes were beginning to appear in the social structure, such as technological and communication infrastructure. Caste, however, has endured these powerful forces of resistance.    Full Annotated Reading List

Caste manifests in everyday digital cultures in various forms, such as caste-hate speech, discriminatory practices in tech corporations, including the Silicon Valley, and platform economies.    Full Annotated Reading List