Topics in Social Justice:
Race, Caste, and Settler Colonialism
Instructor: Sonja Thomas
Wednesdays • 4 classes – 9/22-10/13 • 10:15 AM-12:15 PM
Class size 5-25 students
12 seats remaining
Location: Jewett 190
The class will be both in-person and on Zoom at 190 Jewett Hall.
This class will examine particular topics in social justice. These include caste, critical race theory, and settler colonialism. It is meant to be an introduction to each of these topics. This course will be lecture based, with ample time in each class period for questions and discussion.
The class will be held in 4 sessions: classroom
What is Caste?
Have you heard of caste but never really understood what it is? Have you read Isabel Wilkerson’s book Caste and have lingering questions? Why is it important to recognize caste as a protected category in non-discrimination policies?
This lecture will be a primer on caste where you can learn about terms, caste discrimination in South Asia and in the US, and activism to end caste apartheid. I will discuss how caste is institutionalized and systemic, the intersections of caste with gender, class, and race, dispel commonly held myths about caste, and discuss the Cisco case in the United States.
This lecture is (roughly) 40 mintues long, giving ample time for Q&A/discussion.
Sonja’s other research interest is tap dance history. She has written articles on tap history, intersectionality and black vernacular traditions, and on blackface abroad (specifically in Asia). She teaches tap dance and black feminist thought in a class at Colby called “Critical Race Feminisms and Tap Dance.”
Check out this video of the class here:
Critical Race Feminisms and Tap Dance
Sonja Thomas is an Associate Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies at Colby College. Her research examines the intersections of caste, race, gender, class, and religion in postcolonial India and community-based movements for “minority rights.” She is the author of Privileged Minorities: Syrian Christianity, Gender, and Minority Rights in Postcolonial India (UWA Press, 2018). She has also written articles on education and religious minorities in India, the South Asian American diaspora and comparative racializations, and Black vernacular traditions in the US and globally. Sonja is associate editor for South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. She is currently researching Catholic missionary priests from India serving in rural America.