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Summary: Global intellectual history; late colonial India; untouchability; caste; Dalit studies, modern Mexico, pragmatism; race; mestizaje; nationalism, space, violence, affect and emotion.
Location: Michael Sadler Building 3.32
I completed an MA in South Asian Studies at El Colegio de Mexico. It was there where I became interested in the history of untouchability and Dalits in India. I studied a PhD in History at the University of Cambridge. My doctoral dissertation focused on the concept of untouchability as a political category and in the political thought of B.R. Ambedkar. I joined the University of Leeds in September 2015 as a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research Fellow.
My interest in the history of political ideas in the Global South is threefold. The first part of my work analyses the way ideas such as caste and untouchability, were being debated in late colonial India. Secondly, my research traces the influence and transformation of the American philosophy of pragmatism in India and Mexico during the first half of the twentieth century. The third part of my work has to do with the way scholars may study questions of affect, emotions and space, in history and societies.
Current or forthcoming Research Project
My current research project is entitled Into the melting pot: Global pragmatism and nation-building in India and Mexico. Funded by The Leverhulme Trust, this work examines the American philosophy of pragmatism as a global idea in India and Mexico (1915-1950). In these countries, pragmatism was used by several intellectuals against racial and hierarchical supremacy ideologies. Inspired by the work of John Dewey but transforming it to their particular needs, Mexican and Indian thinkers believed that Indian untouchables and Mexican indigenous communities could be included into the nation-building project through culture, politics and education. This study points to new South-to-South intellectual connections. It shows that global ideas cannot be traced to an original source as they are reappropriated in specific regional contexts.
Cháirez-Garza, J. (2014) Touching Space: Ambedkar on the spatial features of untouchability, Contemporary South Asia, Vol. XXII, 2.
Cháirez-Garza, J. (Under review)Identidad, cambio y continuidad en el pensamiento de B.R. Ambedkar in Saurabh Dube and Ishita Banerjee (eds.), India: Historias del Presente (El Colegio de Mexio).
Cháirez-Garza, J. Liberty before Democracy in India: Ambedkar, untouchability and the idea of slavery, (In preparation).