University philosopher to lead caste research

Dr Meena DhandaDr Meena Dhanda, Reader in Philosophy and Cultural Politics at the University, will head up a team of academics to carry out the study on behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The goal of the research is to complete a detailed review of the law and caste, and will draw upon two separate invitation-only events: an academic seminar and a stakeholder event.

Caste is widely seen as a hierarchical system of social ranking which can manifest in discriminatory behaviour.  All religious and non-religious people of South Asian origin are potentially victims of caste discrimination.

Earlier this year, in a historic cross-bench move, Government ministers agreed to introduce legislation to make caste discrimination illegal in Britain.

If passed into law, the amendment to the Equality Act 2010 will provide the same legal protection to victims of caste discrimination as it does to people who face mistreatment on the basis of race.

And the results from this pioneering study will inform the future work of the EHRC in this area and feed into the proposed formal consultation on caste legislation that the Government Equalities Office will undertake in spring 2014.

Dr Dhanda said: “I am delighted to be leading such an accomplished and dedicated team of researchers. As a Leverhulme Research Fellow, I worked on caste in a comparative context, of U.K. and India, focusing on identity and experience of Punjabi dalits.

“The present project takes our work a step further. It is a unique opportunity to deepen and consolidate our understanding of caste in Britain, especially in relation to law. As a part of this project we look forward to engaging with a range of academics and stakeholders.”

Dr Dhanda’s core research team includes experts in the fields of equalities law, human rights, social anthropology, community research and social policy – each with a unique contribution to make towards understanding this multi-faceted subject.

The team includes Dr Annapurna Waughray and Professor Stephen Whittle of Manchester Metropolitan University; Professor David Mosse of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; Dr Roger Green of Goldsmiths, University of London; Dr David Keane of Middlesex University and Dr Stephen Iafrati of the University of Wolverhampton.

A group of enthusiastic and upcoming young researchers from Wolverhampton, London and Sussex will provide assistance.

The team will be assisted by other experts including: Professor Emerita Eleanor Nesbitt of University of Warwick, Professor Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad of University of Lancaster, Dr Sushrut Jadav of University College London, Professor Adam Dinham of Goldsmiths, University of London, Professor Emeritus Paul Avtar Singh Ghuman of University of Aberystwyth and Professor Govardhan Wankhede of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

For further information about this project, please see http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/key-projects/caste/ and contact the EHRC Research Manager, Dr David Perfect

ENDS

For more information please contact Chris Jones in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736

Date Issued: Monday 9 September 2013

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