A C   K N O W   L E D G   M E N T S
Dalit studies has recently emerged as a new field of study in India. As we
explain in the introduction to this volume, a number of factors have contrib-
uted to the rise of this exciting field. Perhaps the most striking is the entry
of Dalit intellectuals into academic institutions. Since the late nineteenth
century there has been a long tradition of Dalit activist- scholars outside
academia. This volume brings a new group of scholars and activist- scholars
to academic attention in North Amer i ca and the West more generally. The
rise of the field of Dalit studies has been propelled by the emergence of a new
generation of Dalit activists and intellectuals since the 1990s. This develop-
ment coincided with the discussions of caste inequities in the Indian media
and academia. In Indian—or, more broadly, South Asian— academia, histori-
cal and anthropological research in the first two de cades of the twenty- first
century yielded information about previously unacknowledged struggles by
Dalit groups, tribal people, women, and other marginal sections of Indian
society. This period also coincided with new research in the disciplines of re-
ligious and literary studies and in historical and contemporary fields, which
further highlighted the role of marginal social groups in sustaining dif er ent
forms of devotion and protest. The exciting new research in the past two
de cades, especially the rise of Dalit studies and new attention paid to B. R.
Ambedkar, also coincided with the formal end of the subaltern studies col-
lective. It is in this new exciting moment that Dalit Studies raises a new set
of questions, focusing on Dalits as subjects of study and on Dalit studies as
a location of marginality to be studied in Indian history. The book seeks to
draw attention to the per sistence of practices that sustain caste inequality and
its relationship with the unraveling of modernity in India. The last two hun-
dred years of Indian history seems to suggest, as several essays in this volume
argue, that commitments to equality can not only coexist, but can be made
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