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Abstract 50

Framing Caste through Repertoires of Contention: Anti-Caste Student Mobilisations and Collective Performances in an Indian University

Mr Soudh Ishmail, PhD Scholar, Department of Political Science, University of Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Ideological and performative expressions of contemporary anti-caste, identity based student mobilisations have been distinctively critical yet an unexplored domain of social movement research in India. Deriving from the theoretical frameworks of Charles Tilly, Sydney Tarrow and David A. Snow on contentious politics, this paper contextualises the historical development of various anti-caste student assertions, categorically with regard to their adaptation of fresh repertoires of contention and identity based collective frames in various mobilisations. Social, cultural and historical underpinnings of these contentious repertoires and collective frames will also be critically explored. Drawing from the archives of student pamphlets and newspaper reports, and through interviews of former and current student activists of University of Hyderabad, a public university in India, the paper argues that anti-caste contentious performances of university students are contingent and conditioned by local historical events and political mobilisations. Collective performances like public burning of Manusmriti (a Hindu legal text which sanctions caste and gender discrimination), organising beef and Asura festivals (public events to consume beef and to contend with the hegemony of dominant Hindu social practise) and construction of Velivada (a protest site symbolised as a Dalit ghetto) has been studied in detail in the paper, focusing on its relations with the local anti-caste regional movements happened in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Through these contentious repertoires, I argue that the movement participants have internalised and constructed an ideational universe of mobilisation around the concept of caste identity where in their subjective experiences of discriminations are aligned with the master frame of caste, which helped in sustaining anti-caste identity based mobilisations inside the campus.

Key words: student mobilisations, identity politics, caste, repertoires of contention, frames

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