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Rupali Bansode

Postdoctoral Fellow


Rupali Bansode is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she spearheads the department’s new initiative entitled “Caste and Race: Past and Present.” She received her doctorate in Sociology from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in November 2020. Her dissertation, entitled “Recasting the Social in the Aftermath of Caste-based Sexual Violence: A Study of Gender and Caste Relations in Rural Maharashtra,” provides an ethnographic account of the lived realities of Dalits and the changing nature of Dalit movements in relation to incidents of caste-based sexual violence. Her research builds on the three disciplines of gender studies, sociology, and anthropology to examine how inequalities such as caste, race, gender, and class shape lived realities of historically marginalized communities. She has published articles in Contributions to Indian Sociology and the Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. Prior to her appointment at Penn, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

Research Interests

The Department of South Asia Studies has instituted a two-year initiative on “Caste and Race: Past and Present,” which is meant to lay the foundation for a more enduring curricular and faculty engagement with caste and race for South Asia at Penn.  The department seeks to respond to the ongoing crisis in the US over police brutality and racialized violence by proposing a teaching initiative on cross-cultural and comparative approaches to forms of ascriptive discrimination and the struggles against it. The initiative will focus on comparative histories of the experience of caste and race in America and South Asia, focusing on modes of discrimination, the interplay of race and caste with the institutions of civil society and the state, cultural appropriations, and forms of redress and resistance. There is now a critical mass of scholarship on different dimensions of comparisons between caste and race both within the US and between the US and South Asia as well as a growing number of activist organizations and intellectuals building bridges of understanding between a younger generations of anti-caste activists in India and anti-racist and BLM activists in the US. The initiative will help build greater awareness, through comparative and connected approaches, of the dynamics of structural oppression and everyday discrimination.  Over the next couple of years, Rupali will be at the helm of this high profile initiative. Please keep an eye out for news on upcoming events relating to this.