“Re-membering Ambedkar:Understanding his thought and practice ” By
Dr.Etienne Rassendren

Dr.Etienne Rassendren is presently an Associate Professor of English at St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous). He has been in the profession for about 28 years. Dr.Etienne Rassendren has contributed significantly in the fields of study of post-colonial, cultural and nationalism studies, gender and multi- cultural studies and studies on critical theory. On the 25th of April,2019, Dr.Rassendren addressed the students “Re-membering Ambedkar:Understanding his thought and practice ”.

In his talk he highlighted the absence or isolation of dalit literature from the mainstream academics. This gap has raised significant questions. To answer the said question one has to trace back to the largest contributor in the field- Dr.B.R Ambedkar.

The term “re-membering” essentially means to reconstruct an event, ideology or person. The essence of the term is manifested in the way it is able to answer certain important questions and is able to explain what constitutes an idea. He emphasized that to understand the contemporary issues of caste we need to look no further than Ambedkar in his work “Annihilation of Caste”. The book helps us internalise the thoughts and the ideas of Dr. Ambedkar, but most importantly, it helps re-member Ambedkar. Dr. Rassendren’s idea is to not to look at Ambedkar at the nominal value but to study the different parts which make up Ambedkar. According to Dr. Rassendren, the book speaks of the aspects of Ambedkar’s life.There are four distinct parts which can be analysed post the reading- the origin, the functioning, the transformation and replacement of caste.

Dr. Rassendren’s address was very thought provoking. He emphasised on the need for a reflecting action or Praxis to answer the questions on caste and Ambedkar. In the course of his lecture he brought up an important question of constitutional morality of Ambedkar. Rather than giving the answer, Dr. Rassendren raked a few questions in the minds of the audience. Firstly, he questioned the relevance and need for Ambedkar in the present era. Secondly, he raised the points of equity vs equality, which is a very contemporary debate. Lastly, he questioned the kind of contribution Ambedkar can make in the ever-changing world. Such questions can never be definitively answered but the need to ask them is very important.

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