DALIT NATION takes its name from the self-determined name Dalit’s use instead of the term Untouchable. It means broken people, broken under caste but still determined to survive. In that spirit DALIT NATION is the blog of Thenmozhi Soundararajan. In addition to her own writings and work, it brings together scholars, artists, and activists with one goal: Eradicate Caste. Below are some of our contributors
Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a transmedia storyteller and technologist who believes story is the most important unit of social change. Her work has been recognized by the Producers Guild of America Diversity Program, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Chicken and Egg Foundation, The Annenberg Innovation Center, Slamdance, MIT Center for New Media Studies, The Sorbonne, Source Magazine, Utne Reader, The National Center for the Humanities, The National Science Foundation, The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Follow her work at her blog www.dalitnation.com or on twitter @dalitdiva
Vee Karunakaran is a Dalit woman scientist, writer and educator. She grew up in a strong Dalit activist household listening to stories and learning her people’s history of oppression. Outside that safe space, however, she experienced a profound lack of acknowledgement of the abusive structure of caste. She asserts that this attitude mounts an effective denial of not only her own existence, but of the some three thousand years of history of her people. To make herself visible as a Dalit woman, she constantly writes to educate and organizes around Dalit issues. She believes Dalit women asking questions and taking action can shake the foundations of caste feudalism. She is also a strong advocate for science and education as a means to dissolve old oppressive ideologies. She has a Masters from University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Biochemistry from Dartmouth College. Her scientific achievements have been awarded by the Federation of European Biochemical Societies, the Geisel Graduate Fellowship and won the Provost Award for Interdisciplinary Innovation.
Christina Dhanaraj is a 3rd generation Christian Dalit woman from a semi-urban context in southern India. During her student days, She played an active role in the Student Christian Movement and AICUF, both of which helped her explore caste and discrimination from varied perspectives. She also presented and published papers on globalization, sexual violence, caste, and other issues that were relevant to the student community then. At present, She works as a business analyst. She is also part of a Tamil theatre group that stage plays relating to gender bias and violence against women. She is determined to personally grow into someone who is not ashamed of her context or her upbringing. She aims to empower Dalit students, and in particular Dalit women students, and help groom themselves into becoming powerful, strong & independent professionals. She has a masters in Chemistry from the National University of Singapore and is a recipient of the NUS research scholarship. She enjoys writing poetry and microfiction.
Sanghapali Aruna Lohitakshi is a Dalit rights activist from India. She comes from a South Indian family that embraced Buddhism in 1972; she grew up with the idols and ideologies of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Buddha. She embraced Buddhism in 2006 and since then has been working with Buddhists, Dalit youth and children across India. With inspiration from her father, a strong Ambedkarite and who was closely associated with BAMCEF, she committed herself to Ambedkar’s vision of liberating Dalit women and Dalits. She believes that if Dalits can give back 1% of what Dr. B.R. Ambedkar has done for them, it would make a big difference to the society. She is a leading member of the Dalit Women Self-Respect Yatra that focuses on ending Caste-Based Sexual Violence and has also represented Dalit women at the 26th session of UNHRC, Geneva last year. She is also one of the board members of Jai Bhim International, a non-profit organization based in San Francisco. She is currently a doctoral fellow in Linguistics at JNU, New Delhi
Manisha is a young fiery Dalit woman activist from Haryana. She has three sisters and two brothers; her mother works as a cleaning lady in the Gurudwara, her father passed away when she was in 6th grade. Her school teacher discriminated against Manisha for the first time in the 3rd grade. She was constantly reminded of her caste and called by her caste name in school by the teachers. When her father passed away,her elder brother left his studies and started working as labourer to support the education of his sisters. He worked in double shifts to earn more money to support his family. Manisha has been very active on campus (during her under-graduate days) and beyond with the rights-based activism. She also attended trainings of Safai Karamchari Andolan (Sanitation workers movement) and Women in Governance. Manisha, after lots of hardship completed her graduation and post-graduation. She is now pursuing a law degree in Haryana. Manisha has also been working with All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch from 2007. She started off as a volunteer but now has become the State Coordinator for Haryana. She is an extremely determined, hardworking and a powerful Dalit woman. Manisha has a vision to support Dalit girls in Haryana and help them believe that they can do well in their lives; in addition to making leaders out of Haryana’s Dalit Women.