Outsider at home: Reading Babasaheb Ambedkar as a radical, decolonial psychologist
Journal of Personality
Objectives: Known primarily as the architect of the constitution of India, Babasaheb Ambedkar was also a human rights lawyer, an economist, a social justice advocate, and a polymath. Yet his story is often overlooked in favor of national leaders such as Gandhi. This study highlights Ambedkar as a visionary who called for a radical and new psychology of self that was anchored in ideas of social justice, equity and full participation. Furthermore this study fills the gap in the field of psychobiography which rarely reflects the cultural lives and experiences of the Global South. Methods: This study follows the psychobiographical method and uses memoirs, essays, speeches, and biographies as data. Results: Three “turning points” in Ambedkar's life are examined: (1) Early childhood experiences of being an “untouchable”; (2) Returning to India for employment after completing his doctorate in the U.S.; (3) Converting to Buddhism in later life. Using a decolonial theoretical lens, we analyze the multiple ways that he experienced being colonized and dehumanized. Conclusion: As he defied the caste structures within his own culture and resisted colonialism, Ambedkar developed a syncretic politics of resistance that emphasized the creation of a decolonized Dalit self and community.
Bhatia, S., & Ram, A. (2023). Outsider at home: Reading Babasaheb Ambedkar as a radical, decolonial psychologist. Journal of Personality, 91 (1), 14-29. https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12751