Meet Our New Faculty | Dr. Karthick Ram Manoharan
October 22, 2022
We are excited to welcome our new faculty member Dr. Karthick Ram Manoharan who joins us as Assistant Professor, Social Sciences. He has previously worked as Senior Lecturer at the School of Development, Azim Premji University, as Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC), and as Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Wolverhampton.
At NLSIU, he will be teaching students from across programmes, starting with the BA LLB (Hons) as well as the LLB (Hons) programme. In this interview he tells us more about his interests and his work.
Can you tell us more about yourself/your background?
The early part of my childhood was spent in Gujarat and Assam before relocating to Chennai. I studied at Loyola College, and the Asian College of Journalism at Chennai before pursuing a Master’s degree in History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. I earned my PhD in Government from the University of Essex where I was also a Graduate Teaching Assistant.
Generally, I identify as a political theorist, but I don’t let discipline bind me! During the course of my work at the University of Wolverhampton, I gained the qualification of Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA). The rich work experience I gained from my previous work spaces have contributed greatly to my academic worldview.
In terms of my personal interests, I am a film buff. I enjoy watching classics of world cinema as well as popular films, as well as writing the occasional review. I like reading mythologies and epics (Greek, Indian and Norse in particular). In literature, dissident writers from the former Soviet Union are my favourite.
What are your main areas of interest and teaching? How did your interest in these areas begin?
My main area of interest is in doing political theory with political thought, with special interest in humanism, identity, violence, political atheism, left-wing thought, and anticolonial theory. I was drawn into political theory, thanks largely to the works of Jean-Paul Sartre and Frantz Fanon. Neither identified themselves as political theorists, but were authors of works that addressed important political questions of their times, and perhaps ours too, if only creatively read. Working on, and with the thoughts of Fanon, made me face a few crucial methodological and conceptual issues, that I continue to deliberate on. Very broadly, I am interested in understanding and providing a defence of universalism.
What will you be teaching at NLS?
I will be teaching political science at NLS. Given the ubiquity of the political, I think it is absolutely important for students of law to have a good understanding of political concepts they come across. The assumed ‘depoliticization’ in the age of technology never came to pass, and what we have now are complicated, interlinked forms of
politics that befuddles even the most astute observers. The classics are always a great place to start one’s study of the political. To navigate through the contemporary, we need guidance from past masters.
Please share your thoughts on starting your teaching journey at NLS, and your plans ahead.
This is my first time teaching a UG student population of this size, and I find it both challenging and exciting. While I taught large batches of MA students at Azim Premji University, I have taught smaller batches of UG students at the University of Essex, and MPhil/PhD students at CSSSC. Hence, NLS will be a new learning experience for me, which I eagerly look forward to!
Could you highlight some of your key projects or publications?
My first monograph Frantz Fanon (Orient BlackSwan 2019) was a reflection on the question of identity and my second monograph Periyar: A Study in Political Atheism (Orient BlackSwan 2022) dealt with the concept of political atheism. Both books engaged intensively with the primary material of the respective thinkers to theorize them in new ways, and also drew from philosophy, intellectual history, religious studies, literature, and popular culture.
I was awarded the European Union’s Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions Individual Fellowship for my two-year research project titled “Freedom from Caste: The Political Thought of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy in a Global Context”. To the best of my knowledge, this was one of those rare occasions when this prestigious and highly competitive fellowship was awarded for research on a critical Indian thinker. Recent publications, as part of the output of this project, include my monograph Periyar ((mentioned above), and a co-edited special issue on CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion titled Freedom from Caste: Anti-Caste Thought, Politics, and Culture. More such outputs from this project are in the works, including a co-edited volume on Periyar.