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Faculty Seminar | Mapping the Elements of an Ambedkarite Jurisprudence

December 15, 2021

The Faculty Seminar on ‘Mapping the elements of an Ambedkarite jurisprudence’ will be held on December 15, 2021.


Arvind Narrain, Visiting Faculty, NLSIU


According to Prof. Upendra Baxi, Ambedkar was ‘ritually celebrated’ even as he was ‘intellectually marginalized’ in the social sciences. This has changed in recent times with political theorists like Aishwary Kumar arguing that Ambedkar is ‘the great thinker of the Indian sub continent to be so little known to scholars of constitutional and republican thought outside India.’ Within the field of law, it is the work of Prof Baxi which has made a compelling case to foreground Ambedkar as a thinker of ‘lawless laws’ and as ‘an articulate archivist of atrocities’. This presentation seeks to develop on the existing work to argue that Ambedkar’s contribution to the thinking of law emerges from three dimensions of his engagement with law. Firstly from his viewpoint on caste as law emerges a critique of state law as the only law worth engaging with. Secondly from his advocacy of state law for social emancipation due to its nature ( universalist) its expressive power( concepts like dignity) and coercive power( counter majoritarianism) emerges an appreciation of the possibilities of law. This is at odds with contemporary radical approaches to the law such as the Critical Legal Studies movement which limit themselves to exposing the contradictions of law. Thirdly from his advocacy of fraternity emerges an understanding of the limits of positive law. The question is, do these three approaches to the law contribute to a specifically Ambedkarite jurisprudence?