CARE Director’s Opinion: Caste, communication and the tech sector by Prof. Mohan Dutta

A Washington Post story published on June 2, titled “Google’s plan to talk about caste bias led to ‘division and rancor’,” documents the resistance put up by employees at Google identifying themselves as Hindu protesting the platforming of a pedagogy-based lecture by the dalit rights activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the founder and executive director of Equality Labs. Equality Labs is a nonprofit that advocates for Dalits.

What is powerful about the story is the complicity of the infrastructure of Google in de-platforming the event and in targeting the organizer of the event at Google, Tanuja Gupta, who worked as a senior manager at Google News. 

The disinformation campaign organized by Hindu employees targeting Soundararajan called her “Hindu-phobic” and “anti-Hindu” in emails to the company’s leaders.

I am very familiar with these tropes, rooted in disinformation, that are increasingly being deployed by Hindutva adherents to target critics of Hindutva, particularly academics, journalists, and activists.

Over the course of the past year, in response to my scholarship on Hindutva and the support of CARE, the center I direct, for a conference titled “Dismantling Global Hindutva,” I have experienced relentless attacks fuelled by a disinformation campaign labelling me Hinduphobic and accusing me of spreading “Hindumisia” (both Hinduphobia and Hindumisia are terms concocted by Hindutva to silence critics of the hateful ideology). These attacks have taken the forms of letter-writing campaigns directed at my employer, threats on Twitter, sexually violent emails threatening rape, and death threats on digital platforms. 

What is critical to this global disinformation campaign is the role of formally recognized organizations such as Hindu Council and Hindu Youth here in Aotearoa, Hindu American Foundation in the US, as well as professionals and business owners in disseminating the disinformation.

In the context of Google, the disinformation is seeded and disseminated by employees.

In doing so, Hindutva adherents draw on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies, making the claim that the criticism of caste or Islamophobia in Hindutva violates the principles of DEI.

The Indian Institutes of Technologies that both the Google CEO Sundar Pichai (a Tamil Brahmin) and I attended (Pichai graduated two years ahead of me from IIT Kharagpur), and that boast of having trained the leaders of the global tech sector (IIT Bombay alumnus Parag Agarwal is the Twitter CEO, the chairman and CEO of IBM is the IIT Kanpur B.Tech Arvind Krishna, among many other alums who lead the tech sector) were founded on the principle of cultivating the scientific temper and preparing the engineers that will build the newly independent postcolonial nation.

Inherent in the construction of the IITs is a Brahminical structure that privileges specific forms of merit that draw upon the historic hierarchies of caste in India.

The very notion of merit is rooted in and intrinsically intertwined with caste in the Indian context.

That caste hierarchies and the accompanying oppressions have shaped access to learning resources and opportunities for learning are erased from the hegemonic caste formations that shape education, and certainly engineering education, in India.

These caste hierarchies are intensified in the IITs, with their projection of elite education based on the hyper-competitive joint entrance examination.

At IIT, Kharagpur, the Institution I attended, the caste structure played out in the largely Brahmin men, and the occasional Brahmin women, that formed the professorial ranks. The Mukherjees, Chatterjees, Banerjees, and the Bhattacharyas (Bengali Brahmins) made up these ranks, replete with the taken-for-granted practices of inclusion and exclusion, rooted in caste supremacy. In the 1990s when I attended the IITs, it was rare to take a course from a dalit professor. 

It would be worthwhile to examine the caste composition of the Professoriate in the IITs in 2022.

Caste practices play out in the oppressive treatment meted out to oppressed caste students.

Marked as “quota students,” dalits are subjected to racialized slurs challenging their intelligence and their right to be in the IITs. These racialized slurs were often uttered by peers and reinforced by Professors.

The power of the caste infrastructure is held up through communication, through gossip networks that undermine, through racialized slurs, and through practices of touch and body that exclude.

In 2021, an IIT Kharagpur Professor was video recorded bullying and verbally abusing dalit students. This recording offered an account of practices of casteist violence that are deep-seated in the institutions.

The toxicity of the caste structure is manifest in the negotiations of mental health among dalit students, reflected in the disproportionate suicide rates among dalit students. Students report experiencing discrimination on the basis of caste and religion, holding the religious and caste biases of the IITs as the underlying reasons for suicides.

Caste-based inequality flows from education into the technology sectors, with discriminatory practices around touch, racialized verbal and emotional abuse, and denial of opportunities to dalits built into organizational structures.

Global technology organizations such as Google have large representation of South Asians, with a strong presence of Indians. 

For Indians in such tech organizations, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) forms a key resource in addressing the challenges of organizational bias and structural racism. 

Hindutva-espousing professionals within organizations such as Google then communicatively invert caste, on one hand, erasing the presence of caste, and on the other hand, claiming that any discussion of caste in Hinduism is Hinduphobic and will result in discrimination of Hindus. The erasure of caste oppression then is incorporated into the discursive architecture, denying caste oppression while perpetuating it. 

Salient in the farewell note of Tanuja Gupta to Google is the following account:

“Of all the organizing I have done at this company, I think many are surprised that fighting for caste equity was the lightning rod issue that took me down. But I have an Indian CEO and SVP who both know exactly what’s going on and tacitly approve of everything that’s  happened. I know this because multiple VPs and Directors confirmed that in Sundar’s  Leads meeting, they discussed the need for a new universal vetting process of speakers to ensure this doesn’t happen again. So my hope is that Googlers start to understand the magnitude of this issue, and the threat that their greater understanding poses to the South Asians in power.”

The discussion of caste in global tech organizations threatens the power consolidated by upper caste Indians within these organizations. The discussion of caste disrupts the carefully crafted model minority narrative that is essential to the upward mobility of Indians in the tech sector and to the perpetuation of the meritocratic myth that fuels the tech sector. The discussion of caste threatens to reveal the misogyny, violence, and racism that forms the communicative infrastructure of a cross-section of Hindu society. 

Paradoxically, the claims to DEI serve as tools for shutting down necessary discussions of caste violence in tech.

The silencing of the voices of dalits within organizational structures is violence that perpetuates Hindutva. Moreover, the erasure of conversations on caste in tech forecloses critical conversations on the role of caste in shaping algorithms and platform infrastructures. These are critical questions as the speak to the organizing role of a racist ideology in shaping platform algorithms and search engines. Critical conversations on caste led by dalits is vital to building just platform architectures.

Professor Mohan Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication. He is the Director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), developing culturally-centered, community-based projects of social change, advocacy, and activism that articulate health as a human right.

Google #ThenmozhiSoundararajan #EqualityLabs #Dalits #IITKharagpur #IndianInstitutesOfTechnologies #Hindutva #CAREMassey #CAREMasseyNZ #CARECCA

Article & Image Source: Massey News

Release of Māori Expert Advisory Group (MEAG) Report to Ministry of Health – HE KAUPAPA WAKA @ CARE

Release of Māori Expert Advisory Group (MEAG) Report to Ministry of Health – HE KAUPAPA WAKA

TUESDAY 14th JUNE 2022 at 11.00 AM NZST

Venue: CARE Lab – BSC 1.06, Manawatu campus, Massey University
& LIVE ON Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/5599594463393467

Join us on Tuesday, 14th June @ 11 am NZST at the CARE Lab BSC 1.06 or tune in LIVE for the release of the report HE KAUPAPA WAKA

Presented by Caroline Herewini, Te Awhimate Nancy Tait with Prof. Mohan Dutta &  CARE: Center for Culture Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation

HE KAUPAPA WAKA REPORT

Executive Summary:
As a Māori Expert Advisory Group (MEAG), the advice in this report for the
Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora (the Ministry) has been undertaken with a clear view of accountabilities and Te Tiriti o Waitangi obligations.The MEAG was asked to provide leadership and advice on scoping a training programme for the routine enquiry of family violence, sexual violence, child abuse and neglect (FVSV), for primary health care and community providers, to benefit our whānau. Part of the brief was to examine what elements from the Violence Intervention Programme (VIP), a training programme implemented across all district health boards (DHBs), could be used in the Primary Health Care Sector. This report outlines the work undertaken over eighteen months and includes a final set of recommendations for the Ministry to consider.

In writing this report MEAG have been conscious of the multiple audiences, from ministerial and Ministry of Health observers through to whānau and health providers, as contributors.

This audience-based focus is part of the promise of reciprocity to our Māori and Pasefika providers and other organisations who provided their insights, knowledge and experience – this report is to honour their voices.

From those commitments and the desire for an open readership, the content is created to be accessible to all readers. Context explanations in several sections may seem repetitive to some experienced ministry level analytical audiences, but this stance is deliberately taken by MEAG to provide for the whole audience.

The MEAG developed a three-part approach and framework for our work, that is based on the idea of understanding and interpreting the signs from our environment and responding appropriately. The report is laid out using theseheadings – but emphasises that processes are rarely linear and cycle from, responding to our environment, regularly switching from information gathering to analysis to imagining the future back to information gathering again. The intersectionality and the contextual impact of violence inform each hui we held, and the knowledge that was shared.

#MāoriExpertAdvisoryGroup #MEAG #HeKaupapaWaka #FamilyViolence #SexualViolence #ChildAbuse #MasseyUni #CAREMassey #CARECCA #MinistyOfHealth

CARE White Paper Launch – Issue #15: Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers

presented by Prof. Mohan Dutta and Dr. Leon Salter with panelists Ibrahim Omer, Anita Rosentreter and Rebecca Macfie.

Thursday, 24th March 2022 @ 12 PM NZDT via Facebook Live (Link in description)

Abstract

Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers : Findings from interviews with 25 rideshare and delivery drivers about their navigation of precarious working conditions in a pandemic environment.

Livestream Link: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/291971153109628

Location via Facebook Live and CARE YouTube channel

About our panelists:

Ibrahim Omer became an MP to represent communities who often struggle to have their voices heard. His experience spans fleeing his home country, being in a refugee camp, working as a minimum wage cleaner, graduating from university, and representing low paid workers as a union organiser.

Rebecca Macfie is an award winning New Zealand journalist, with a background in workplace, health and safety, business and climate writing. She is the author of Tragedy at Pike River Mine:How and why 29 men died (2013), and Helen Kelly: Her Life (2021).

Anita Rosentreter is the Strategic Project Coordinator for Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing at FIRST Union. She leads the campaign Real Work Real Jobs, which aims to turn insecure work into secure work. Target groups include gig workers, those in labour hire, and dependent contractors.

#WhitePaper #COVID19 #GigWorkers #CAREWhitePaper #CAREMassey #CAREMasseyNZ #MasseyUni

CARE White Paper Launch- Issue #14: A Culture-Centered Approach to Community-led Social Cohesion in Aotearoa

Join us on Thursday, 17 March 2022 at 7PM (NZDT) for the release of the CARE White Paper: “A Culture-Centered Approach to Community-led Social Cohesion in Aotearoa New Zealand”

The launch will be presented by Professor Mohan J Dutta, Dean’s Chair of Communication & Director of CARE.

The White Paper is co-authored with Pooja Jayan, Md Mahbub Rahman, Christine Elers, and Francine Whittfield, CARE: Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation

Facebook Event Link : https://www.facebook.com/events/2196384167179941/

Facebook Premiere Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/311510504299109


CARE Op-Ed: Dialogue isn’t always the best option by Prof. Mohan Dutta

by Prof. Mohan Dutta
Kelvyn Alp, broadcasting on Counterspin, a key source of disinformation and conspiracy theories for “freedom” protesters. (Screenshot); Source: https://e-tangata.co.nz/

Superficial attempts at listening and dialogue can have the effect of normalising the far right, giving it credibility and the opportunity to grow, writes Professor Mohan Dutta.

One of the mainstream liberal responses to the angry anti-mandate, anti-vax, anti-everything protests that we’ve been seeing around the country are calls for dialogue

These calls, coming from a wide array of mainstream sources, including the Human Rights Commissioner, suggest that dialogue promotes social cohesion. Dialogue, so the theory goes, creates a middle ground through listening to all communities, thereby preventing polarisation. 

Implicit in this approach is the “both sides” logic, with dialogue serving as a resource for developing mutual understanding between the two differing constituencies. 

But what exactly is the middle ground when democracies are faced with viral disinformation campaigns organised by powerful political and economic interests?

What exactly are the characteristics of dialogue when dealing with a protest that is propelled and co-opted by disinformation and hate, that is deeply rooted in the ideological apparatus of white supremacy, and that is seeking to seed chaos and capture power by undermining democratic institutions? 

What message does the performance of dialogue with campaigns fed by white supremacy send out to Māori, Pacific and ethnic communities who are the targets of the hate perpetuated by the far right? 

In the backdrop of the Christchurch terror attack, what message does dialogue with a protest fuelled by white supremacy send to Muslims in Aotearoa New Zealand, who continue to grapple with the trauma of that violence?

Instead of building social cohesion, superficial attempts at listening and dialogue can have the effect of normalising the far right, giving it credibility and the opportunity to grow. 

There is profound irony in the fact that the reference to “listening to communities — all communities”, in calls for dialogue covering the statements by the Human Rights Commissioner, relates to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch attack targeting Muslims and migrants. 

Consider this irony in the context of the voices of Muslims in Aotearoa New Zealand, who continue to highlight the erasure of their voices and the unresponsiveness of the Crown structures to Muslim voices documenting and raising concerns about Islamophobic hate. 

In an Official Information Act response to Christchurch youth advocate Josiah Tualamali’i, Crown Law (the organisation responsible for drafting the terms of the Royal Commission inquiry), stated that “in drafting the terms of reference, Crown Law did not consult with Muslim community leaders and/or victims of the attacks.” 

Whiteness and dialogue

The uncritical and celebratory view of dialogue as a human right reflects the whiteness of the mainstream approaches to dialogue, which upholds as universal the values of the dominant white culture. 

Instead of building a framework for justice that pays attention to the inequality inherent in many white spaces, the upholding of dialogue as a panacea reproduces and magnifies the disinformation and hate perpetuated by white supremacists.

The protests we’ve seen in Wellington and around the country have been shaped by disinformation and hate, seeded and circulated by right-wing white supremacist hate infrastructures, connected to and imported from Trump-aligned fascist groups in the United States. 

You’d have to be blind not to see the convergence in strategies between the recent protests at parliament and the Capitol riots which called for citizen-led arrests of policymakers, jailing them, and even carrying out their executions.

Counterspin Media, a platform that’s been covering the protests and feeding  protesters with disinformation, has been a key media resource in the mobilisation of the protests. 

As observed by digital activist Byron Clark, who has co-written a white paper on resisting digital hate, Counterspin is streamed on the Steve Bannon-led GTV network and is a key player in organising and circulating disinformation and hate here in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

In spite of multiple early warning signs about the presence of this hate infrastructure, the Crown has largely been unresponsive, and digital platforms have continued to profit from the virality of hate content. This is particularly disappointing given the rhetoric of the Christchurch Call.

The host of Counterspin, Kelvyn Alp, has actively promoted disinformation and hate propaganda, calling on protesters to storm parliament and arrest members of parliament, and making multiple references to killing them. On March 2, the day police finally ended the 23-day occupation, Alp opined that things would have gone differently if protesters had been armed: 

“Can you imagine if a few boys brought out of their boot a few AK-47s? Those muppets would have run for the hills. That’s the problem. You disarm a population under a false flag so they can then come and eviscerate you.”

Alp is joined by other white supremacists: Brett Power, Philip Arps, Damien De Ment and the white nationalist group Action Zealandia.

Counterspin has also circulated the Christchurch conspiracy video during the Wellington protest, claiming the falsehood that the Christchurch terrorist attack was a false flag.

White supremacists systematically target Indigenous and other minority communities with disinformation and hate propaganda. White supremacist propaganda targeted at Black, Indigenous, people of colour (BIPOC) communities seeds chaos and amplifies and multiplies disinformation and hate. We saw examples of that in the US, where white supremacists co-opted Black Lives Matter protests and organised violence.

These propaganda infrastructures operate largely on digital platforms such as Telegram, Facebook and Twitter. Simultaneously, they create and craft spectacles — the protests — that draw mainstream media attention, further perpetuating the disinformation. The production of the spectacle is a key strategy in placing disinformation and hate into the mainstream media. 

Inequalities and dialogues at the margins

Communication is deeply infected by colonial, race, class, and gender inequalities. 

Calls for dialogue that overlook or erase these inequalities uphold the power and control of the coloniser. A framework of dialogue rooted in justice recognises these inequalities and seeks to build spaces for the voices of the margins.

Just dialogues need to begin with developing culture-centred methods and practices for communities at the margins, created and led by communities at the margins, that challenge disinformation and hate. 

Across digital platforms, I’ve witnessed a number of anti-racist Māori activists and leaders such as Tame Iti, Marise Lant and Matthew Tukaki, who have taken the leadership in countering the disinformation fuelling the protests. They’ve been engaging communities in critical conversations, and have simultaneously been exposing the underlying ideology of white supremacist hate driving the protests.

Respecting the commitments of te Tiriti would put Māori leadership at the heart of any strategy of dialogue and social cohesion.

Respecting the voices of Muslims in Aotearoa New Zealand who have in recent years borne disproportionately the burden of violence emerging from white supremacy would centre the voices of Muslims in building solutions for social cohesion.

In creating opportunities and safe spaces to listen to the voices of those on the margins, we would also attend to the ways in which the whiteness of the Crown’s Covid-19 response has produced forms of marginalisation — including among some of those who took part in the #Convoy22NZ protest — and help to build solutions that address the economic disenfranchisement resulting from government policies. 

Partnering with, and supporting, the leadership of communities at the margins as the drivers of solutions is going to be vital to countering the Trumpian web of disinformation and hate that has planted its roots in Aotearoa New Zealand.  

Professor Mohan Dutta (Photo supplied)

Professor Mohan Dutta is Dean’s Chair Professor of Communication at Massey University. He is the director of the Centre for Culture-Centred Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), developing culturally-centred, community-based projects of social change, advocacy and activism that articulate health as a human right. 

© E-Tangata, 2022

© 2021, Center for Culture-Centered Approach for Research & Evaluation (CARE). All rights reserved.


Rescheduled: CARE White Paper Launch: Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers on 14th March 2022 @ 12 pm NZDT- TBC

presented by Prof. Mohan Dutta and Dr. Leon Salter with panelists Ibrahim Omer, Anita Rosentreter and Rebecca Macfie

CARE EVENT UPDATE: Unfortunately, tonight’s CARE White Paper Launch: Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers is rescheduled to Monday 14th March 2022.We will be in touch with you soon with an updated time. Apologies for any inconvenience. Thank you.

CARE White Paper Launch: Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers- presented by Prof. Mohan Dutta and Dr. Leon Salter with panelists Ibrahim Omer, Anita Rosentreter and Rebecca Macfie.Abstract: Experiences with COVID-19 Among Gig Workers : Findings from interviews with 25 rideshare and delivery drivers about their navigation of precarious working conditions in a pandemic environment.Monday, 14th March 2022 @ 12 pm NZDT-TBC
Location Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/984089835577558
and on CARE YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF760E7rBst3U5GmJ5FhDDw

RSVP HERE: https://www.facebook.com/events/2761363950838111/

#CAREWhitePaper #COVID19 #GigWorkers #CAREWhitePaper #CAREMassey #CARECA #CAREMasseyNZ #MasseyUni

CARE White Paper Launch – Experiences of Indian Muslims with Digital Hate: A Preliminary Report

CARE White Paper Launch – Experiences of Indian Muslims with Digital Hate: A Preliminary Report

presented by Prof. Mohan Dutta with panelists Anjum Rahman, Sapna Samant, Ashok Swain, Haroon Kasim

Abstract:
Release of CARE white paper on anti-Muslim hate in India

Wednesday, 26th January 2022 @ 8 pm NZDT

Location Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/CAREMassey/videos/547809686874118
and on
CARE YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF760E7rBst3U5GmJ5FhDDw

#CAREWhitePaper #DigitalHate #CAREMassey #CAREMasseyNZ #MasseyUni

CARE OP-ED: THE COMMUNICATIVE STRATEGIES OF HINDUTVA

by Prof. Mohan Dutta, Massey University

Professor Mohan Dutta, director of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE) at Massey University.

Hindutva, a political ideology that seeks to construct India in the structure of a Hindu nation (Hindu Rashtra), draws its conceptual tenets from the organising framework of fascism. As a modern project, Hindutva is rooted in the desire to create a Hindu nation that is organised on the principles of the European nation-state through cultural hegemony that homogenises the population, simultaneously erasing the rights of religious minorities.

The fascist root of Hindutva is evident in the writings of one of the key architects of the concept, MS Golwalkar, who writes: “German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races – the Jews … a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.”

Note here the deep interplays of the ideology of Hindutva and white supremacy. The purity of race and culture that forms the hate structure of white supremacy is mobilised in the political formation of Hindutva. Hindutva embodies the colonial imposition of a politics of purity through the purge of the ‘other’ organised by the state.

One of the key architects of Hindutva, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, wrote the book Hindutva in 1923, outlining the concepts of a common nation (rashtra), a common race (jati) and a common culture or civilisation (sanskriti). Note the parallels here with the ideology of the German Nazi party, anchored in ein volk(one people), ein reich (one nation), ein Fuhrer (one leader).

At the heart of this ideology is the production of the ‘other’ that is outside of the nation. Similar to the construction of Jews as the outside of ein volk in Nazi ideology, Muslims and Christians are constructed as the outside of the Hindu rashtra in the ideological construction of Hindutva.

The effects of this ideology are evident in the hate and violence that have been directed at Muslims. The ongoing political project of disenfranchising Muslims through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is a reminder of the Nuremberg Laws passed in Nazi Germany to strip German Jews of their citizenship.

The communicative infrastructure of Hindutva is deployed through the articulation of a monolithic ‘Hinduness’ as the basis for organising the political project. To belong, one has to declare their ‘Hinduness’ and allegiance to the Hindu Rashtra, as defined by the political project of Hindutva.

To dissent from this monolithic vision of Hindutva is to be anti-Hindu. Within the organising structures of India, to dissent against the ideology of Hindutva is to be anti-Indian. The political project of Hindutva threatens the pluralism, polymorphism, and democratic ethos of Hinduism.

The celebrated Indian film-maker Anand Patwardhan, observed at the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference, “If Hindutva is Hinduism, then the Ku Klux Klan is Christianity.”

The recent attacks on me, the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Massey University, and on academics globally writing on and debating about the pernicious effects of Hindutva, are reflective of the hegemonic communicative infrastructure of Hindutva. At the heart of this hegemonic infrastructure is the silencing of dissent while imposing a monolithic ideology. In this instance, Hindutva proclaims to speak for all Hindus as it carries out this fundamental attack on academic freedom.

From trolls reproducing digital hate, to hateful propaganda published in diaspora digital portals, to letter writing campaigns targeting the university, to petitions attacking the university for steadfastly supporting academic freedom, forces of Hindutva draw on a wide range of strategies. Hindutva deploys bullying and rhetorical fallacies to silence dissent because it lacks the tools of argumentation to appeal to reason.

Referring to these forces of Hindutva at work to silence academic freedom in the form of the organised attacks on the Dismantling Global Hindutva conference, Professor Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University, observes: “The extraordinary thing about the conference was the massive disinformation campaign by those seeking to prevent the academic scrutiny of Hindutva. The campaign launched against this conference was concerted, comprehensive, and entirely without scruples. As has been covered in the Guardian and Al Jazeera, many participants received threats, including death threats. We know that, as a co-sponsoring institution, you also faced overwhelming pressure to pull out from this conference. The threats include nearly every threat to academic freedom listed on the AAUP’s (American Association of University Professors) website.”

Of particular concern in western democracies are the threads of foreign influence and interference into academic freedom and the fabric of pluralism.

In western democracies, Hindutva seeks to silence criticism by communicatively inverting the violence perpetuated by the political ideology of Hindutva, while simultaneously playing to the ethos of superficial western multiculturalism. It projects a narrative of fragility, constructing references to Hinduphobia, in seeking to assert its cultural hegemony in the diaspora, while simultaneously silencing dissent and articulations of social justice. Hindutva actively erases the voices of adivasis (indigenous people), oppressed caste communities, women experiencing gender violence, gender diverse communities, and minority communities in seeking to establish the hegemony of its monolithic values.

In our work at CARE that seeks to co-create spaces for the voices of the ‘margins of the margins’ to be heard, we will continue to pursue our justice-based scholarship in spite of the organised forces of hate seeking to silence these voices by policing the term Hindutva. We are empowered in this work by the steadfast support of the leadership of Massey University in safeguarding our academic freedom, and in the protections offered by the Education Act 1989.

Related articles

Professor Mohan J. Dutta recognised as Distinguished Scholar


Professor Mohan Dutta named ICA Fellow

Article Source: Massey University News


© 2021, Center for Culture-Centered Approach for Research & Evaluation (CARE). All rights reserved.

CARE White Paper : A culture-centered approach to hate speech regulation

by Mohan J. Dutta, Pooja Jayan, Md Mahbubur Rahman, Christine Elers, Francine Whittfield , CARE Massey University

We begin this response by noting that laws against incitement of hate are necessary in extreme situations. However, a culture-centered analysis suggests that laws against incitement are not effective in transforming cultures of intolerance and hate that are held up by powerful political and economic interests[1]. Those in places of power deploy hate to serve their political and economic gains. Simultaneously, we note that powerful political and economic interests use hate speech laws to silence dissent and erase articulations from the margins. As anti-racist academics and activists, collaborating with social justice activists, we have experienced and witnessed the silencing processes through manipulation of legal frameworks around hate speech. Our activist collaborators have been harassed and persecuted by authoritarian states under the guise of promoting racial and/or religious harmony[2]. It is vital to critically interrogate the individualization of hate in laws against incitement. Instead, structural transformations are needed in the form of policies that are explicitly anti-discriminatory, guarantee and support equality of vulnerable communities, and protect the fundamental human rights of vulnerable groups[3]. We propose a culture-centered policy framework to addressing hate speech that tackles the political economy of hate and builds communicative infrastructures for the voices of communities at the “margins of the margins.”[4]


[1] Saylor, C. (2014). The US Islamophobia network: Its funding and impact. Islamophobia Studies Journal2(1), 99-118; Bukar, A. A. (2020). The Political Economy of Hate Industry: Islamophobia in the Western Public Sphere. Islamophobia Studies Journal5(2), 152-174; Campbell, K. G. (2004). Freedom of speech, imagination, and political dissent: Culturally centering the free speech principle. University of Denver.

[2] Thanapal, S., & Dutta, M. J., (2019). Dismantling racism in Singapore: Resisting authoritarian repression. Interview. Palmerston North: Center for Culture-centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE); Thanapal, S. (2020). The neo-colonized entity: Examining the ongoing significance of colonialism on free speech in Singapore. First Amendment Studies54(2), 225-235.

[3] George, C. (2016). Hate spin: The manufacture of religious offense and its threat to democracy. MIT Press.

[4] Dutta, M. J., Elers, C., & Jayan, P. (2020). Culture-centered processes of community organizing in COVID19 response: Notes from Kerala and Aotearoa New Zealand. Frontiers in Communication5, 62.

#ICA2021 @ CARE

CARE has been awarded a grant from the International Communication Association (ICA) to host a regional hub for the 2021 ICA Conference. CARE is especially delighted as Theme Co-Chair of the 2021 ICA that we are able to host this hub in Aotearoa with the theme of “Engaging the Essential Work of Care: Communication,Connectedness, and Social Justice.”

The hub will be hosted as a face-to-face conference that complements the virtual conference, with spotlight sessions that are focused on work in Aotearoa. The conference will be hosted from May 27 to May 31, 2021.

The Hub will operate in a hybrid model, with face-to-face participation complementing virtual participation. It will feature two spotlight sessions per day for the five days of the conference that bring together participants around themes, and host face-to-face conversations around the virtual sessions. Participants will indicate their preferences for the sessions around which they would like to have face-to-face conversations. They will watch the virtual session together, followed by a discussion of the themes emergent from the session.

In addition, each spotlight session will be complemented with a complementary workshop held on May 26 and May 27, where participants will bring in their manuscripts accepted at ICA and rework them for publication. These workshops will be led by journal editors and editorial board members of leading journals of the discipline.

CARE ICA 2021 Pre Conference –
Hybrid Workshop – 26th – 27th May 2021
ICA21 Regional Hub in Aotearoa
@ CARE, Massey University
28th – 31st May 2021

The ICA Regional Hub at CARE will complement a one-day hybrid workshop on “Centering Care: Methodologies of the Global South.” The workshop will bring in scholars from across the global south in virtual sessions, working alongside face-to-face interactions, focusing on key methodological questions in scholarship of/from the Global South. Aligned with the conference theme, the workshop will center the essential work of care in organizing research and practice in universities. Sessions will connect with local organizers and activists in generating conversations on key questions of care work in the generation of decolonizing knowledge. Centering the principles of Kaupapa Māori, the workshop will explore the decolonizing work of care in culture-centered methods.

As a theme co-chair, Prof. Mohan Dutta will be hosting a closing plenary with academics and activists on the theme, “Empire and the global politics of care: Academic-activism, social justice, and Southern imaginaries.”

To be a part of the #ICA21 Regional Hub RSVP below or email your contact details to Breeze Mehta: b.s.mehta@massey.ac.nz

RSVP Here 

To be a part of the complementary Hybrid workshop : Centering Care: Methodologies of the Global South, RSVP below or email your contact details to Breeze Mehta: b.s.mehta@massey.ac.nz and we will be in touch with you.

RSVP Here