International Conference on Counting Caste: Breaking the Caste Census Deadlock

Conveners: The South Asian Alternative Forum 

Speakers: Sonajhariya Minz, Dilip Mandal, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Satish Deshpande, Grace Banu, Gopal Guru, Anupama Rao, Carmel Christy, Pa Ranjith, Sylvia Karpagam, Nrithya Pillai, Meena Kotwal, Bharat Patankar, Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, Sagar, Christophe Jaffrelot, Khalid Anis Ansari, Srinivas Goli, Ali Anwar, Faisal Devji, Ellis Monk, Meena Dhanda, Kamala Visweswaran.


Venue: Online - Zoom
Registration required:

The conference hopes to discuss how a caste census in India could take forward conversations on representation, access to resources, wealth distribution, and participation of marginalised caste groups in governance and electoral politics. Through six panels with notable names in academia, politics, activism, and performance, the conference aims to raise questions about how the “majority” and “minority” have been constructed in Indian politics, academic writing, and popular culture. It is being organised at the University of Oxford by the South Asia Alternative Forum (St Antony’s College), with the support of the department of Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, The Asian Studies Centre, St Antony's College, the South Asia Research Cluster (Wolfson College) and the South Asian Society.

Full Schedule here


Saturday 5 February
Keynote Speaker : Sonajhariya Minz (Vice Chancellor, Sido Kanhu Murmu University)
10 am GMT | 3.30 pm IST

Panel 1 | Rethinking Majority and Minority in India: The Question of Caste Census
10.30 am to 12.30 pm GMT | 4.00 to 6 pm IST

Dilip Mandal - Public Intellectual, Former Managing Editor of India Today        
Kanimozhi Karunanidhi - Member of Parliament
Satish Deshpande - Professor, Delhi University 
Grace Banu - Activist, Trans Rights Now Collective     
Moderator: Asha Singh - Assistant Professor, CSSSC.                                                                                                                        

Panel 2 | Census and the colonial construction of Hinduism
1 pm to 2.30 pm GMT | 6.30 pm to 8 pm IST

Gopal Guru - Editor, Economic & Political Weekly; Retired Professor, JNU       
Anupama Rao - Associate Professor History, Columbia University.        
Carmel Christy - Assistant Professor, Delhi University
Moderator: Nidhin Donald - Independent Researcher                                                                                        

Rap Performance: Arivu
3 pm GMT | 8.30 pm IST

Panel 3 | Whose Culture is it?: Decoding Caste within 'Popular' Culture
3.30 to 5 pm GMT | 9 pm to 10.30 pm IST

Pa Ranjith - Filmmaker
Sylvia Karpagam - Doctor and Public Health researcher
Nrithya Pillai - Hereditary Bharatnatyam dancer
Meena Kotwal - Editor, Mooknayak
Moderator: Vijeta Kumar - Lecturer, St Joseph's College, Bangalore  

Sunday 6 February      
Keynote Speaker: Bharat Patankar - Activist, President Shramik Mukti Dal
10 am GMT | 3.30 pm IST

Panel 4 | From Colonial to the Everyday: Hindutva’s Caste Ambiguity
10.30 am to 12 pm GMT | 4.00 pm to 5.30 pm IST

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd - Retired director, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad
Sagar - Staff writer, Caravan Magazine
Christophe Jaffrelot - Professor, Sciences Po                 
Moderator: Nandini Sundar - Professor, Delhi School of Economics

Panel 5 | Caste Census and the 'Muslim Question'     
1 to 2.30 pm GMT | 6.30 to 8.00 pm IST

Khalid Anis Ansari - Associate Professor, Azim Premji University
Srinivas Goli - Assistant Professor, JNU
Ali Anwar - Journalist, Former Member of Parliament
Faisal Devji - Professor, University of Oxford   
Moderator: Shireen Azam - DPhil researcher, University of Oxford

Panel 6 | Race and Caste: How do Oppressive Systems Count?                                 
3.30 pm to 5 pm GMT | 9 to 10.30 pm IST

Ellis Monk - Associate Professor, Harvard University
Meena Dhanda - Professor, University of Wolverhampton
Kamala Visweswaran - Professor, Rice University
Moderator: Suraj Yengde - Senior Fellow, Harvard University