1 Jun 2011 12:45pm - 2:00pm CRASSH


Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work-in-Progress seminar series.  All welcome, no registration necessary.  Sandwich lunch and refreshments provided.

   Dr Ravi Raman (SOAS)
   CRASSH Visiting Fellow Easter 2011
   A State Robbed of Power? Interstices of Education, Religion and
   Politics in Kerala, India?

   Email:  rr21soas.ac.uk

Partly in response to global imperatives and partly owing to its historically evolved social structures, higher education in Kerala – a state known the world over for its high level of social development –  is now experiencing  radical changes. The ensuing transformation is a derivative of the confrontation/compromise among religious/caste groups,  political parties and civil society mediated through the state and  state-like formations, with liberal and social democratic regimes alternating in power. While the state  has been experimenting with various  combinations of educational regimes – aided, partially aided,  self-financed and so on – the emergent scenario remains rather obscure, particularly on issues such as privatisation of  higher  education, capitation fees, the reservation and quota systems, and the overall control  that the dominant social forces exert over  pedagogy and education. The demand for greater autonomy for the emergent governance structures has led to a crisis situation wherein religious  and caste groups even declared their intention to launch a second  'liberation struggle', the first  one having been staged in the immediate post-independence phase and  having succeeded in pulling down the communist government which had  brought in state-led educational reforms in 1959. The paper attempts to look at the distinctiveness of  the recent  paradigm shift in education in the state and to envisage the higher education of the future within a historically evolved social setting, when religious and caste groups, with their own materiality projects act as key transformative players in place of the state.


About Ravi Raman

My early fieldwork explored the history and political economy of the plantation life-world in the Indian south. I am currently integrating work done at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Manchester(Hallsworth Research Fellow 2005-08), the Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford (Charles Wallace Fellowship,1999) and at the Centre for Development Studies, Kerala, India.

Inspired by structuralist and post-structuralist critical perspectives, my more recent work centres around the multiple histories of power, material relations and the “regime(s) of truth” as related to the indigenous people and the other historically oppressed dalit and backward communities in India. It has been my attempt to interrogate globalisation and the political economy of development, agrarian and the labour questions including the commodity chain trap, state and state-effects, organisation studies and corporate social responsibility, migration and regional development, natural resources, environment and post-development social movement, as also the implications of the entry of multilateral financial agencies on sustainable development and social democratic regimes. I have now been concentrating on the innumerable forms of 'contra-discourse’ that the victims and the oppressed articulate, as part of their resistance identity and social formation.

Method of Enquiry: Interdisciplinary with a focus on political economy, development studies and historical anthropology which in turn has helped me develop a critical dialogue with the historiographic traditions such as the Subaltern Studies and the World System analysis as in my authored book.

Regional Expertise: South Asia/India/Kerala




To access the Readings for the Work in Progress seminar, please contact Michelle Maciejewska

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