Theory as Elite: The Phenomenological Dilemma of Dalit Critique

  • Sudarsan Padmanabhan (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


In recent debates on the theoretical framework of social sciences, Indian political scientist Gopal Guru mounted a critique that Indian social science is not representative and egalitarian. In the same breath, Gopal Guru sought to rationalise this lacuna. Guru claimed that the works of Dalit scholars and thinkers are more performance-oriented and less theoretical. This paper would raise several issues with reference to Gopal Guru’s claims: Does theory belong to an elite category? Does the lack of representation of Dalit scholarship present a theoretical conundrum for Indian social sciences? Is Gopal Guru falling into the trap of hierarchical complementarity between theory and performance/praxis? And, is there an intractable dilemma among the Dalit scholars between the politics of representation and the politics of ideas? This paper demonstrates that Guru’s insistence on the moral, existential and social necessity of the Dalit theory is valid. But he is wrong in what he denies.