“Seeking Begumpura” comes from one of my books titles. It refers to a poem by the great bhakti sant Ravidas,who imagined a “city without sorrow” with no inequality, no taxes, no torture or harassment but abundance and freedom for all.
I am now an Indian citizen but was born in Minneapolis, U.S.A. and did my MA. and PhD in Sociology at Berkeley in the big years of the movement of the 1960s. My husband Bharat spends his time organizing farmers and agricultural labourers on drought and eviction issues, as well as fighting SEZs, casteiem and patriarchy. My daughter Prachi lives in Brooklyn and is active in movements there.
I have worked actively with social movements in India, including the Dalit and anti-caste movements, environmental movements, farmers’ movements and especially with rural women. I have been active in the Stri Mukti Sangarsh Chalval which has worked on issues of abandoned women in Sangli and Satara districts of southern Maharashtra, and the Shetkari Mahila Aghadi.
My books include Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The NonBrahman Movement in Western India (now republished by Manohar), Understanding Caste: From Buddha to Ambedkar and Beyond (New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2011), Seeking Begumpura: The Social Vision of Anti-caste Intellectuals (New Delhi, Navayana) 2009; Ambedkar: Towards an Enlightened India (Penguin, 2005), Buddhism in India: Challenging Brahmanism and Caste (Sage India, 2003), Dalit Visions (Orient Longman, 1995), Dalits and the Democratic Revolution (Sage India, 1994), Reinventing Revolution: New Social Movements and the Socialist Tradition in India (M.E. Sharpe, 1993), Violence Against Women: New Theories and New Movements in India (Kali for Women, 1991), We Shall Smash this Prison: Indian Women in Struggle (Zed, 1980). A book of translations from the Marathi with Bharat Patankar is forthcoming from Manohar: Songs of Tukoba. I have also translated Vasant Moon’s Growing Up Untouchable in India: A Dalit Autobiography (Rowman and Littlefield, 2000). Currently a selection of Tukaram’s are due for publication.