Indian Untouchability

October 16, 2013 (Wednesday) / 5:00 pm6:30 pm

Rainey Auditorium, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street

Indian Untouchability

Christian Davenport

Professor of Political Science and Faculty Associate, Center for Political Studies
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

Untouchability has been practiced for 3,000 years in India. Entire villages suffer appalling discrimination and abuse on a daily basis in what, because it remains so shrouded in mystery and misunderstanding, has been called India's hidden apartheid. Christian Davenport describes a recent and remarkable collaboration whose purpose was to shed new light on untouchability by combining such unlikely forms as a children's book, a board game, and an art exhibition. What was revealed through this maverick intervention?

In addition to his faculty appointments at the University of Michigan, Christian Davenport is Director of the Illustrative Information Interface, Stop Our States, and the Radical Information Project (RIP), as well as Associate Editor of the Journal of Conflict Resolution. "Generally," he writes on his website, "I am interested in political conflict and violence—particularly that involving governments and those affiliated with them (e.g., genocide/politicide, mass killing, torture, bans, curfews, beatings, arrests for political purposes and domestic spying).  I have a broad interest in the topic, which has brought me to look at both global patterns and individual cases (the United States, Rwanda, India, Northern Ireland as well as more recently Darfur, Sudan and Mexico) as well as employ a diverse range of approaches (i.e., statistical research, ethnography, film and gaming)."

Davenport is a prolific author, publishing widely in such journals as the American Political Science Review, American Sociological Review, American Journal of Political Science, and Journal of Conflict Resolution, among others. He is author of Media Bias, Perspective, and State Represssion: The Black Panther Party (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics), which in 2011 was awarded Best Book in Racial Politics and Social Movements by the American Political Science Association. He is also author of State Repression and the Domestic Democratic Peace (Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics), and co-editor of Repression and Mobilization (with Carol Mueller and Hank Johnston), and Paths to State Repression: Human Rights Violations and Contentious Politics.

Before joining the University of Michigan's faculty in 2012, Prof. Davenport taught at the universities of Notre Dame, Maryland, Colorado, and Houston.

Outside his academic pursuits, Davenport is co-creator of New Jack Academics (with Darren Davis), a novelist, a creator of board games, and an archery enthusiast.