14 June, 2021

'Calling The Other Impure, Subhuman Is Psychological Ethnocide'

Caste is often seen in impersonal terms, as a social fact. What about the individual—the constant, corrosive trauma? That’s the domain of Dr Sushrut Jadhav, cultural psychiatrist.

'Calling The Other Impure, Subhuman Is Psychological Ethnocide'

When we think of caste, we usually think of impersonal factors—social hierarchies, structures, politics—not of the individual, the subject upon whom these forces act. And the individual is the theoretical and practical domain of Dr Sushrut Jadhav, professor of cultural psychiatry at the University College London and founder-editor of the Anthropology & Medicine journal. He describes himself as a street psychiatrist and a clinician-anthropologist. That means he works with people on the streets—his theory flows from practice, and life. Dr Jadhav was on Outlook’s list of ‘50 Dalits Remaking India’. To mark the anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste on May 15, 1936, he talks about his work—how he brings psychiatry into the act of analysing forms of social oppression—in a conversation with Sunil Menon. Excerpts:

Straddling an...

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