Ambedkar, Dewey, and the Evolution of Pragmatism in India

13. Jul 2023, 10.15 am
research building "World Relations"
Scott R. Stroud, Ph.D. (Department of Communication Studies | University of Texas at Austin)
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Most know that Bhimrao Ambedkar, an architect of the Indian constitution and tireless advocate of Dalit rights, thought highly of his former teacher, John Dewey. But what do we know about the specifics of their relationship? In this talk, Dr. Scott R. Stroud discusses some of the main themes in his recently published book, The Evolution of Pragmatism in India: Ambedkar, Dewey, and the Rhetoric of Reconstruction (University of Chicago Press / HarperCollins India, 2023). Ambedkar’s educational experiences with John Dewey at Columbia University in 1913-1916 will be detailed, as will Ambedkar’s voracious reading of many of Dewey’s works long after the young reformer left New York. Expanding on this historical account of their educational and intellectual relationship will be the most thorough accounting to date of Ambedkar’s appropriation of Deweyan concepts and methods to forge a new vision of pragmatism. His Navayana pragmatism represents an approach that centers social democracy, the dignity of human personality, and the need to relieve oppression while creating the conditions for fraternity.