[Marxism] A Carletonian and Berkeleyian in India

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Sat Mar 4 09:23:03 MST 2006

Gail M. Omvedt

Writer, Research, and Activist

I was born in Minneapolis, went to Carleton College, and came out to  
Berkeley only after my first year in India, in 1963-64, returning to  
India in 1970-71 to do my Ph. D. dissertation and then to finally  
“settle” there in 1978.

So I have taken something of the “great years” of the 60s from  
Berkeley to India and vice versa!

When trying to combine living in India and teaching at San Diego  
didn’t work, I quit and went to India. I had married into a middle  
caste (“Bahujan”) “rich peasant” farming family in western India and  
have “settled” in the large “village” of Kasegaon (my daughter calls  
it a “town” in her poems but by Indian definition it’s a village) in  
southern Maharashtra, with Bharat and other members of an Indian  
joint family.

I’ve been an Indian citizen since 1983. The social movements I’ve  
been involved with included the Dalit and anti-caste movements,  
environmental movements, farmers’ and women’s movements, but at  
present I’m most active in the anti-caste movement.

To tell the truth, I am a kind of “mother figure” (along with one  
other American, Eleanor Zelliot) to many Dalits. One way of putting  
the problems people of my category has been expressed by one Indian  
friend: “I don’t have an address.”

I’ve had a variety of occupations, which might be described as  
“upscale unorganized sector” jobs. Most recent is a three-year  
position as Senior Fellow at Teen Murti in Delhi (a prestigious place  
and it has the advantage that I don’t have to be there very much of  
the time but with no computer facilities [??[).

My most important books include, most recently a forthcoming really  
wild book that falls in between “activist journalism” and “expert  
scholarship.” “Buddhism in India; Challenge to Brahmanism and Caste.”

I’m also getting into translation from Marathi: “Growing Up  
Untouchable: A Dalit Autobiography.” You can use it for all kinds of  
introductory courses!

Dissertation: Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The NonBrahman  
Movement in Western India, 1873-1930

Biography submitted on: 2002-10-14 10:14:02


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