Mark Juergensmeyer’s research reignited Dalit consciousness and radical assertion in Punjab

The publication of ‘Religious Rebels in the Punjab’ inspired a new wave of learning among Dalit activists and scholars of Dalit studies on the Ad Dharm movement and its founding father, Babu Mangu Ram, writes Ronki Ram

Professor Mark Juergensmeyer is a household name among social scientists, scholars, students and Dalit activists in the Doaba of East Punjab – a stronghold of Ad-Dharmi and Mazhbi Dalits. This region gave rise to a number of radical social and political movements when India was under British rule. The most prominent among them were the Ghadar, Babbar Akali and the Ad Dharm. Mark’s familiarity with the people of this region evolved during his field work on the genesis, organization, ideology and functioning of the Ad Dharm movement. Half a century ago, he made this place, between two rivers – Sutlej and Ravi – the universe of his doctoral research work. He became affiliated to the Department of Political Science at Panjab University (PU) in the 1960s and from there he used to frequent different places in the Doaba to interview leaders, activists and sympathizers of the Ad Dharm movement – the most prominent among them being its founder, Ghadari Baba Babu Mangu Ram Mugowalia.

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