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Ethics and Political Philosophy Group Talk (Meena Krishnamurthy, Queens)

Friday March 12, 2021, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Ethics and Political Philosophy Research Interest Group welcomes Meena Krishnamurthy, an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at Queen’s University. Dr. Krishnamurthy works on a variety of topics in political philosophy. She is currently writing a book (The Emotions of Nonviolence) and a series of related papers on the political philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr, focusing on King’s views about “political emotions” in motivating the desire to end racial injustice. Her work explores how he used the various tactics of the civil rights movement (protest, images, letters, and oratory) to engage these emotions and overcome some of the barriers to political action. Krishnamurthy is also writing on Indian political thinkers such as B. R. Ambedkar who concern themselves with the nature of caste. She is especially interested in how thinking about caste can inform thinking about race and racism in the United States.

Join the meeting:

Meeting ID: 812 3591 2517
Passcode: 698975

Talk Title

Ambedkar and Du Bois’s Meliorist Approach to the Caste Problem

Talk Abstract

Caste is an all but ignored topic in mainstream (western) political philosophy. This is unfortunate because the caste problem was – and still is – an urgent global problem. As we know, it exists not only in India but also among the South Asian diaspora of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Moreover, as Du Bois, Jyotirao Phule, and later Martin Luther King Jr. argue, the caste problem and the race problem may very well be one and the same. Michele Alexander argues, in The New Jim Crow, that the incarceration of poor people of color in the United States is tantamount to a new caste system. This is why the caste question, its genesis and evolution, is of utmost importance for those of us who study race and racism. After explaining Du Bois and Ambedkar’s views on the origin and evolution of the caste problem in the United States and in India, I argue that both Du Bois and Ambedkar take a pragmatist approach to caste that emphasizes amelioration. The meliorative approach is instructive because it helps us begin to identify a realistic path forward.

About the Ethics and Political Philosophy Group

The Ethics and Political Philosophy Group meets periodically throughout the year to discuss topics in value theory and related fields, including meta-ethics, normative ethics, applied ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy of law, moral psychology, practical reason, agency, and identity.



Friday March 12, 2021
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Ethics and Political Philosophy Research Interest Group 
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