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Left becomes victim of its own oppression Olympics: JNU Professor Spivak in dock for pulling up Dalit student, bullied student because she thought he was Brahmin

Her insistence on correct pronunciation, while dismissing Kumar’s broader question, can be interpreted as a tactic to undermine his voice based on perceived caste identity.

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has once again become a battleground for ideological clashes. It is a well-established fact that the trend of targeting Brahmins has grown over time at the institute. However, now a left-leaning professor has inadvertently admitted that there is a bias against the Brahmin community at the institute.

The controversy erupted during a question-and-answer session of Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak on 21st May where a Dalit Student Anshul Kumar’s question was interrupted by the professor for not pronouncing the name of American sociologist WEB Du Bois. Following the altercation, the professor spoke to The Hindu where she admitted that Anshul did not reveal his Dalit identity and that she thought he was a Brahmin.

As per reports, on 21st May, Spivak held a discussion followed by a Q&A session with the attendees. 28-year-old Anshul, who is an MA Sociology student, tried to engage with her on the topic of social positioning. The session turned sour for Anshul when Professor Spivak interrupted him over his pronunciation of the name of American sociologist WEB Du Bois. The reaction from Spivak resulted in laughter from the audience, which left Anshul visibly humiliated.

Anshul’s question was aimed to address Spivak’s self-identification as middle-class, which was in contrast with her commentary on Du Bois as an upper-class elite. As per The Hindu report, Spivak repeatedly interrupted Anshul over the pronunciation making the situation extremely uncomfortable for Anshul. The attendees also pointed out that the professor might have an issue with Anshul as he identified himself as the “Founding Professor of the Centre for Brahmin Studies”.

Responding to the incident, Anshul staged a protest outside the auditorium. He held a protest sign that read, “If the subaltern can’t speak, he shall abuse!” The sign also contained an expletive that expressed his frustration at being silenced by one of the most “celebrated” persons in the field of sociology.

In a post on X, Anshul wrote, “When I stood up to raise my questions after Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak was done with her Lecture on WEB Du Bois and Democracy, This B**t**d and B*t*h Lady had the audacity to interrupt me thrice on my pronunciation of Du Bois. Can the Subaltern Speak?”

In response to the incident, Anshul posted a protest sign outside the auditorium that read, “If the subaltern can’t speak, he shall abuse!” complete with an expletive, expressing his frustration at being silenced.

In her defence, Spivak told The Hindu that there was no intention to stop Anshul from asking the question. Notably, she stated that Anshul did not identify himself as a Dalit which led her to believe that he was a Brahminist.

The Professor said, “Anshul Kumar had not identified himself as a Dalit. Therefore I thought he was a Brahminist since he was saying that he was the founder of a Brahmin Studies Institute. I did not stop Mr. Kumar from asking his question. He was still mispronouncing Du Bois’s name and started to talk to me in a very rude way. As an old female teacher confronting a male student, and especially since I had not been given the information that he was Dalit, my wounded remark that I did not want to hear his question was a gesture of protest.”

“Since Du Bois was himself a Black ‘Dalit’, I would like to suggest that the correct pronunciation be learned,” she added.

The not-so-hidden biases against Brahmins

The controversy has brought forward the complex dynamics within the academic and social justice circle. Spivak openly admitted that she confronted Anshul over the pronunciation because she was unaware of him being a Dalit. The professor thought he was a Brahminist. It opened the can of worms of the oppression and atrocities faced by the Brahmin community in today’s academic world. Spivak’s reaction to Kumar’s perceived Brahmin identity reveals a bias that contradicts the very principles of inclusivity and fairness that academia claims to uphold. Her insistence on correct pronunciation, while dismissing Kumar’s broader question, can be interpreted as a tactic to undermine his voice based on perceived caste identity.

The incident is a stark reminder that there is a need for genuine discourse and understanding in addressing such issues in public forums. It also calls for introspection within academic and activist circles about the biases they perpetuate against the Brahmin community. The left has been trying to champion the cause of the “oppressed” for a long time but while doing so, they are marginalising a community that has given a lot to the country and persistently doing so.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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