Thursday, September 20, 2018 at 4:45pm to 6:15pm
2018 ICM New Conversations Series:
Following the call of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, many Dalits have converted to Buddhism as a mode of political dissent and means of escape from the forms of social subjugation and stigmatization attached to “untouchability.” Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic research, Dr. Ramberg considers the sexual politics of this movement in relation to the temporality of stigma. In particular, she investigates the widely held notion that women in particular find it difficult to break from ancestral religion through interviews with Buddhist women who continue to keep ancestral gods and ethnographic descriptions of weddings in which Buddhist and Hindu rituals are mixed. Drawing on conversations within feminist and queer theory about the distribution of social life and death through reproductive futurism as well as critiques of representations of native others as stuck in the past within postcolonial theory, Dr. Ramberg elaborates on how Dalits work to elude the time set for them by others.
LUCINDA RAMBERG is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at Cornell University. Her research projects in South India have roots in longstanding engagements with the politics of sexuality, gender and religion. Her first book, Given to the Goddess: South Indian Devadasis and the Sexuality of Religion (Duke University Press 2014) explores the possibilities of vernacular religion as gendered world making and caste critique. Her current book project turns to the revival of Buddhism in South India and questions of religious conversion in relation to projects of caste radicalism, social transformation, and sexual politics.