The Center for Global Development and Sustainability at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management hosted the inaugural event for J-CASTE, a new peer-reviewed “Global Journal on Social Exclusion,” on Tuesday evening. 

The journal “aims to advance peer-reviewed scholarship across disciplines into caste systems in South Asia and beyond and considers the marginalization and inter-generational oppression of religious, racial and cultural minorities throughout the world,” Editorial Assistant for Public Outreach and Communications Jaspreet Mahal wrote in an email to the Justice on Monday. 

Brandeis Librarian Matthew Sheehy praised J-CASTE in his speech at the event for its open-access policy, which complements the Brandeis Library’s goal of removing “financial, legal, and technical” obstacles to content. 

The first issue of J-CASTE will begin with a letter from the Dalai Lama congratulating the University on the journal’s founding. During her remarks at the event, Provost Lisa Lynch read a line from the letter: “Through education, as your journal [J-CASTE] aspires to do, we can promote a sense of the oneness of the seven billion human beings.”

The Center also presented the 2019 Bluestone Rising Scholar Award, which recognizes “individuals who show great promise to make outstanding scholarly contributions in their future careers to the study of caste,” according to the J-CASTE website. This prize is named for the late Seymour Bluestone, who Prof. Joseph Assan (Heller) described as “a force bringing people together.” Although he only visited the University once, Bluestone strongly identified with Brandeis’ social justice values, and upon his death donated $8.4 million to the University

This year’s Bluestone Rising Scholar Award winners, chosen out of over 70 submissions, were Maya Pramod, a Ph.D Candidate at the University of Calcutta, India, and Vivek V. Narayan (PhD, Stanford University). Pramod’s winning submission is entitled “As a Dalit Woman: My Life in a Caste-Ghetto of Kerala,” which focuses on her experiences living as a member of the untouchable caste in India. Narayan’s piece is entitled Mirrors of the Soul: Performative egalitarianisms and genealogies of the human in colonial-era Travancore, 1854-1927. It centers on three main themes: “the social construction of caste, histories of anti-caste resistance and the intellectual genealogies of anti-caste political ideas,” Narayan said.  

The Center also gave out the Special J-CASTE Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism to Phillip Martin of WGBH Boston for his radio series “Caste in America.” In his speech at the event, Martin explained that most people do not realize that the Indian caste system exists in the United States. Though there have been some movements by lower-caste members in the country, they have been quickly shut down, Martin said. Most upper-caste Hindus deny that caste plays a role for them in the United States, except in decisions surrounding marriage, he said. 

No date for the publication of the first issue has been given yet. You can register to be notified of its release on the journal’s website. The publication will be available online and a subscription is free to all.

The Brandeis Library co-sponsored the event.