Remembering Sharmila Rege
Sharmila Rege (1964-2013), a feminist scholar from India is well-known for her seminal work on reimagining knowledges, pedagogies, political struggles, and higher educational practices (and interrelationships amongst these), from a Dalit feminist perspective. Ten years after her passing, we seek to commemorate her contributions and reinvestigate the possibility that her work offers for scholars in these troubling times. While an analysis and review of her writings is crucial at this juncture, this essay is a tribute to Rege’s Phule-Ambedkarite feminist pedagogy, and her institutional practices at the Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule Women’s Studies Centre (Pune), which proved foundational to her overall work. In this essay, we discuss her teaching-learning practices of the Women’s Studies classroom in the state university, that recognizes, analyses and interrogates the complex politics of knowledge, its production, distribution, and consumption. By locating herself at the academic borderlands, Sharmila challenged canonical knowledges and the prevalent hegemonic cultures of teaching and learning, by devising new curricula, classroom practices, and resources. Women’s Studies episteme for her, interwove the knowledge practices of both academia and activism. In this essay, we discuss her institutional practices of doing Women’s Studies that she developed by confronting internal differences along hierarchical lines, social inequality, and through the building and enabling of collective work. Now, at a time when the university system seems to be in flux wrought through transformations and new tensions, Sharmila’s insights and practices are critical for the struggle for radical equality.
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