Leir Honors Dalit History Month

Effective human security practice requires centering and uplifting the voices and experiences of marginalized people within different contexts. This means extending solidarity across borders. As such, the Henry J. Leir Institute honors Dalit History Month (celebrated throughout April), and acknowledges the pernicious effect of caste throughout South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. The theme for Dalit History Month 2021 is “hope.” We call upon friends of Leir to consider their role in furthering equality and equity for Dalit South Asians.


Dalit History Month was first operationalized in the United States by a group of South Asian activists, including Dalits, inspired by Black History Month. The goal of Dalit History Month is to “reclaim the agency of a mass of people who have historically remained peripheral in the consciousness of the academia and the state, and to bring forth their stories of resistance, resilience and heroism.” Dalit History Month additionally honors Dalit reformer and intellectual Dr. B R Ambedkar (born in April).

Much of the labor on Dalit liberation has been performed by Dalit feminists, who have identified the intersection between caste and the violation of women’s bodily autonomy (in Thenmozhi Soundararajan’s words, “the 80 million Dalit women in India whose bodies are still forged to caste”). Thus, Dalit liberation is predicated on feminism.

Bringing Discussions of Caste to Leir

Last year, Leir was privileged to host Dr. Suraj Yengde, a Dalit public intellectual. His talk, “Shattering Brahminical Supremacy & White Supremacy: Creating Dalit-Black Archives,” spoke to the historical dialectic between the Black and Dalit liberation movements, and cast an eye to the future of Dalit-Black solidarity. This event was part of our “Racial Justice as Human Security: Voices from the Trenches” event series.

You can watch the event here.

To begin learning about Dalit oppression and the anti-caste movement, see Equality Labs and Dalit Camera.

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