The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition

North Atlantic. Nov. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781623177652. pap. $18.95. SOC SCI
Dalit American Soundararajan, the executive director of Equality Labs, the Dalit civil rights organization, explores caste discrimination in India through the lens of trauma. Dalit is the lowest social group in India’s caste hierarchy. Soundararajan calls for abolition of the caste system and explores the life of a caste-oppressed person, drawing on her own story and that of her family. She also documents the origins of the caste system in India, with special emphasis on religious and legal codes, and depicts the many ways it pervades institutional and social systems in India. Throughout the book, she also emphasizes the common struggle between the Dalit and Black communities in the United States. This account includes extensive appendices that present biographies of prominent Dalit caste-abolitionists, a summary of Buddhist traditions, a comparison of relevant data on caste in South Asian countries, worksheets to guide readers in recognizing their own biases regarding social classes, a series of somatic exercises to aid readers in navigating their own trauma responses to it, and a glossary of key terms.
VERDICT An important account of caste discrimination.
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