Ambedkar in LondonPart of the Comparative Politics and International Studies Series Christophe Jaffrelot (ed.) series
An exploration of the international context for Ambedkar’s ideas around caste, law, religion, democracy and race, as developed while studying in the imperial capital.
Dr Bhimrao R. Ambedkar (1891-1956) was one of India’s greatest intellectuals and social reformers; his political ideas continue to inspire and mobilise some of the world’s poorest and most socially disadvantaged, in India and the global Indian diaspora. Ambedkar’s thought on labour, legal rights, women’s rights, education, caste, political representation and the economy are international in importance.
This book explores his lesser-known period of London-based study and publication during the early 1920s, presenting that experience as a lens for thinking about Ambedkar’s global intellectual significance. Some of his later canon on caste, and Dalit rights and representation, was rooted in and shaped by his earlier work around the economy, governance, labour and representation during his time as a law student and as a doctoral candidate at the London School of Economics.
The Indian diaspora in the UK is the country’s single largest national minority. This volume connects Ambedkar’s influence during his lifetime, and his legacy today, to this early phase of his career and intellectual life in London, and its immediate aftermath. It contains new material on the establishment of the city’s Ambedkar Museum, explores Britain’s Ambedkarite movement, and charts the campaign to outlaw caste discrimination in the UK.
‘A valuable and unique contribution that expands our understanding of Ambedkar’s activities and experiences in London and their continuing legacies.’ — LSE Review of Books
‘Engaging and insightful, the editors and contributors have taken great effort to reconstruct Ambedkar’s early days in London. A must-read for anyone who wishes to study the life of this great man.’ — Rama Ambedkar-Teltumbde, granddaughter of Ambedkar
‘This volume doesn’t just fill the gaps in our knowledge of Ambedkar’s life in London–the period that shaped his political life in India–but also opens our eyes to the many movements for human dignity, autonomy and emancipation, from Europe to Africa, inspired by his life.’ — K. S. Komireddi, author of Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India
‘A fine selection of essays placing Ambedkar’s biography and ideas in their international context to lay out, in a systematic way, the scale and ambition of his political and intellectual life.’ — Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History, University of Oxford
‘The world needs to rediscover the ideas and the spirit of the great Ambedkar, who told Dalits to “educate, agitate and organise”. Ambedkar’s story is truly inspirational. His fight against untouchability and prejudice is far from over.’ — David Patrick Paul Alton, Baron Alton of Liverpool
‘An illuminating collection of essays drawing on the methods of global and transnational history to track the influence of the imperial metropole, and the power of institutional and disciplinary histories in shaping Ambedkar’s remarkable public life and the major contributions of his political thought.’ — Anupama Rao, Professor of History and MESAAS, Columbia University
William Gould is Professor of Indian History at the University of Leeds, where he teaches and publishes on the history and politics of South Asia.
Santosh Dass MBE, a former civil servant, is a human rights and equality campaigner, fighting for caste-based discrimination to be outlawed in the UK. She is Chair of the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, and President of the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK.
Christophe Jaffrelot is Avantha Chair and Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at the King’s India Institute, and Research Lead for the Global Institutes, King’s College London. He teaches at Sciences Po CERI, where he was director between 2000 and 2008.