Vasanthi Venkatesh ~ International Casteist Governance and the Dalit Radical Tradition: Reimagining a Counter-hegemonic Transnational Legal Order

(2022) 3 TWAIL Review 171-203 
ISSN 2563-6693
Published under a Creative Commons licence

Responding to calls in TWAIL scholarship, this article shows how the radical Dalit/anti-caste tradition — largely overlooked in the arena of international law — offers a critical lens to conceptualise a post-hegemonic global order. I begin by describing how the caste system is sustained in the post-Independence and in the ‘Hindutva’ Indian state through social, political, and economic exclusion, Brahminical epistemic hegemony, violence, and stigmatisation. I discuss how the caste order is reproduced in the international legal order through neoliberal immigration policies and globalisation of racial capitalism and religious fundamentalism; and how caste compels us to think of hegemony beyond Eurocentrism and colonialism. I take inspiration from Cedric Robinson’s approach in centring the ‘Black Radical Tradition’ as resistance to racial capitalist order to illuminate the potential of the Dalit radical tradition in a ‘post-hegemonic global order’. Specifically, I trace the foundation of a radical tradition in the works of preeminent Dalit intellectual and legal scholar Dr. Ambedkar, and then analyse Dalit resistance in transnational and Global North legal forums.