Theories of Oppression and Another Dialogue of Cultures

An Ambedkar Memorial Lecture delivered by Ashis Nandy at Ambedkar University, Delhi, on April 14, 2012

All dialogues have to cross borders – cultural, political and, above all, psychological. Usually these borders are thought of as international or civilisational borders. When we cross these borders, we are supposed to get a new, deeper, more empathetic understanding of the other ways of looking at the world and at ourselves. There is an implicit assumption in this proposal, particularly when it involves crossing the borders within us. Others are never entirely strangers. They are also templates of the temptations and possibilities within us. We are what we are because we are shaped by the seductive pulls of these templates. A dialogue breaks stereotypes more easily than it erases these partly alien fragments of our self, operating as anti-selves and rejected selves. Both our creativity and destructiveness depend upon how we grapple with these inner vectors. It is thus that a dialogue sharpens and widens our awareness of what we are and what we are capable of.

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