Seminars and Events in the School


Periyar E. V Ramasamy: A Study in Political Atheism
Friday 13 MARCH, 2022
Location: Lecture Theatre 1, Gordon Stephenson Building (GSTEPH-LT1)

Dr. Karthick Ram Manoharan (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow, University of Wolverhampton)


Periyar .V. Ramasamy (1879-1973) was a rationalist anti-caste leader from South India. Known for his critical views on caste, nationalism, gender, and social justice, he earned a controversial reputation in his lifetime and after for his views on religion. Criticized by his opponents for being a 'crude atheist', Periyar's critique of religion however was not a simple rejection of god, but a critique of political theology. In this paper, I discuss Periyar's controversial, sometimes contradictory, but overall nuanced approach to religion, and explore how his criticisms of religion were fundamentally rooted in an opposition to hierarchical social power and a concern for social justice. I read Periyar in the anarchist tradition, drawing comparisons with the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, to consider how Periyar was critical of both divine and secular power.