Conversations with Ambedkar


The lectures at Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD) brought together in this volume dwell on some of the most telling concerns that our age confronts: concerns of justice, social closures, bare life and sovereign power, political agency, discrimination and affirmative action, displacement and migration, new modes and languages of command and control, social movements under the shadow of global capital, and politics of epistemic and normative frames on offer today. While several of the lectures take off from some of B.R. Ambedkar’s writings and interventions, others meet Ambedkar in shared concerns by remaining within the frame of their distinct academic specialisation or professional pursuits. The result is a deep conversation where scholarship and social concerns converge, begetting a complex tapestry of their own. The introduction to the volume, which highlights the distinctiveness of Ambedkar as a scholar and the scholarship that goes in his name, acts as a connecting thread to the themes and concerns mounted in these lectures.

This volume is envisaged as the first in a series of dialogues with Ambedkar and his thought as embodied in the annual Dr B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Lecture series. The first ten lectures (2009–18) presented here mark the first decade in the life of Ambedkar University Delhi.

Romila Thapar

Romila Thapar (born 30 November 1931) is a distinguished Indian historian whose principal area of study is ancient India. She is the author of numerous substantial books including the popular classic, A History of India, and is currently Professor Emerita at Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) in New Delhi.

After graduating from Panjab University, Thapar earned her doctorate under A.L. Basham at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London in 1958. She was a reader in Ancient Indian History at Kurukshetra University between 1961 and 1962 and held the same position at Delhi University between 1963 and 1970. Later, she worked as Professor of Ancient Indian History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she is now Professor Emerita.

Thapar's major works are Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations, Recent Perspectives of Early Indian History (ed.), A History of India Volume One, and Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300.

Valerian Rodrigues

Valerian Rodrigues, the editor of the volume, is currently Ambedkar Chair, Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD). His recent books include The Essential Writings of B. R. Ambedkar (2002), The Indian Parliament: A Democracy at Work (2011, co-authored with B. L. Shankar), and Speaking for Karnataka (2018, co-authored with Rajendra Chenni, Nataraj Huliyar and S. Japhet). He served as a member of the Advisory Committee for the international conference, ‘Quest for Equity: Reclaiming Social Justice, Revisiting Ambedkar’, held in Bangalore during 21–23 July 2017.