UMass Amherst to Host International Conference on Caste and Race May 4-6

Author Isabel Wilkerson will be a featured speaker at Caste and Race: Reconfiguring Solidarities
Author Isabel Wilkerson will be a featured speaker at Caste and Race: Reconfiguring Solidarities

AMHERST, Mass. — UMass Amherst will host the fourth annual conference on Caste and Race: Reconfiguring Solidarities Friday, May 4, through Sunday, May 6, at the Integrative Learning Center, Auditorium S240. All events on May 4 are free and open to the public.

The conference will focus on caste in India and race relations in the U.S., and the complexity of navigating between the two. It will feature presentations by leading scholars and activists and highlight discussions of new research, theory and politics in the pursuit of racial justice.

Plenaries will focus on the the psycho-social dimension of casteism and racism; lynching, incarceration and dispossession; and racialized and casteized capitalism. Panel sessions will cover topics such as higher education, student movements, Dalit cultures of resistance, Afro-Dalit pedagogies and historical and comparative analysis.

“The problem of caste discrimination was not addressed at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, also known as Durban I, but since then has come to be recognized as an issue of serious concern for more than 200 million people that can no longer be ignored,” says Amilcar Shabazz, co-chair of the conference program committee and chair of the UMass Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies. “This conference links scholarship and movement work on caste and race in an exploration of solidarity and the common ground that unites these critical projects.”

Featured speakers include:

  • Isabel Wilkerson, National Book Critics Circle Award winner and author of New York Times bestseller “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration”

  • Michaeline A. Crichlow, professor of African and African-American studies and sociology and a senior fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University

  • Keisha-Khan Perry, associate professor of Africana studies at Brown University and author of “Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil”

  • Gopal Guru, professor, Center for Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University

  • Meena Dhanda, reader in philosophy and cultural politics at University of Wolverhampton, UK

  • Sujatha Gidla, author of New York Times Editor’s choice “Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India”

This conference was launched by the Center for Global Development and Sustainability (GDS) at Brandeis University in 2015. It is part of a series of conferences on “The Unfinished Legacy of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar,” which celebrates the work of the Indian scholar, politician and activist who fought against India’s caste system.

The event is sponsored by the UMass Amherst Chancellor’s Office, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, and the College of Education; the Center for Global Development and Sustainability at ​Brandeis University; the India-China Institute, New School for Social Research; and Boston Study Group.

Registration fees are $40 for students; $90 for UMass and Five College faculty, as well as for a spouse or companion; and $175 for all others.