nl en

Against Caste and Race: Identity and Resistance in a Global Context


Admission requirements

In addition to LIAS PhD students, this course is open to students of the MA Middle Eastern Studies (research), and the MA Asian Studies (research). Interested students from other relevant PhD and Research MA programmes are kindly advised to contact the course convener and the coordinator of studies before registering for this course.


The present moment represents a critical juncture in the history of resistance against race-based discrimination (such as the Black Lives Matter movement) and caste-based oppression in South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. Within scholarship, following the lead of Critical Race Studies, Critical Caste Studies is now emerging as an important sub-field. These approaches are not limited to the study of any particular region but rather, posit ways of seeing and critiquing power structures in a global context. Against this background, this seminar is an exploratory introduction to cultures of anti-caste and anti-race thinking and action across the world. Rather than a chronological study of mobilizations around these identities, we will identify notable moments of synchronicity and solidarity between the two movements by reading seminal works by intellectuals, activists, and artists; thus, tracing the concepts and histories of race and caste through intellectual histories and social lenses. In parallel with this, as part of an effort to understand the innovative strategies of resistance through which discriminated people have claimed selfhood and emerged as subjects, we will seek to understand the affective experiences at stake by watching films, listening to music, and reading poetry and fiction. Finally, we will reflect on how race and caste privileges operate at an everyday level in order to occlude and sublimate the structural causes of discrimination. Even in our analysis and study, we must ensure that the burden of caste and race is not put on the oppressed but rather, shifted on to the interrogation of systemic exploitation. Alongside discussions about course material, a major component of the class will entail exposure to emerging networks of solidarity and new media activism. Consequently, from time to time, we will listen to podcasts, look up websites, watch videos, and read media articles as part of the preparation for this seminar.

Course objectives

  • Become familiar with theoretical works dealing with the production of knowledge, in particular related to Critical Race Studies;

  • Enhance your ability to engage and synthesize arguments in debate and workshop settings;

  • Improve critical reading and analysis skills.


The timetables are avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Mode of instruction: seminar

  • Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenor needs to be informed without delay of any classes missed because of illness or misadventure. In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

  • Assignments may include web posts, presentations, moderating the discussion etc, at the discretion of the convener.

  • Deadlines for paper submission (ResMA students only) are set by the convener, after consultation of the students. Papers must be submitted at a date that enables marking and administrative processing within maximally six weeks after the Seminar’s final session.

Assessment method

ResMA students take the course for credit and will write a paper worth about 70 hours of work. Information on the requirements for the paper will be provided by the convener at the start of the course.

Assessment consists of two components, each worth 50% of the end grade:

  • Contributions to in-class debate and any assignments (see above)

  • A paper (see above)

In order to pass the course, ResMA students need a pass mark (i.e. 5,50 or higher) for both components.

Reading list

Prior to the start of the course, the course convener will provide detailed information on the material to be reviewed and any other preparatory activities for each session.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.