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Violence of Caste Embodiment in Higher Educational Institutions

Dominant Bodies and Their Ethical Performances

The everyday normalised brutality that dominant upper-caste bodies seem to inflict on Dalit Bahujans in elite higher educational institutions is addressed in this article. The reproduction of everyday institutional embodiment displays a direction and an intensity that allow dominant bodies to realise their undiminished being. This direction and intensity are supposedly expressed through the arts of living of the upper castes, namely the domains of cellular, intellectual, and social reproduction.

The case of Payal Tadvi,1 a Muslim tribal postgraduate medical student, who committed suicide in May 2019 allegedly due to caste harassment by upper-caste colleagues, joins the long series of complaints against institutional indifference of elite higher educational institutions (HEIs). The conscious hatred of the upper castes and their resentment towards affirmative policies that allowed marginalised students to access the sacred portal of HEIs cannot adequately explain their normalised brutality towards Dalit Bahujans.

The normal escapes attention and the lack of institutional care remains unaddressed. Paradoxically, this lack of institutional care towards Dalit Bahujans means that institutions are fine-tuned to the hegemonic needs of the cultural elite and do not act neutrally towards its various constituents. This purportedly appears to be the hostile structure of HEIs and this structure has to be reproduced on a day-to-day basis. From being slighted for their awkwardness of being and sloppiness of thinking, to being constantly reminded that they lack proficiency in the imperial cultural possession—the (English) language of propriety and legitimate material acquisition—the structure of HEIs is exclusionary to the core. The testimonies of fellow Dalit Bahujans in other professional fields, which followed Payal Tadvi’s incident in the popular media, express the internalisation of this corrosive structure—an internalisation that eats into the vitals of a decent and dignified existence.

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Updated On : 20th Jan, 2020

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