We at Dollars and common sense Close 2021 by noting belatedly the passing of Dr K. (Kunjulekshmi) Saradamoni, economist, feminist and pioneer of gender studies / women studies and Dalit studies. Dr Saradamoni is the author of numerous books, the most famous being his 1980 book Emergence of a slave caste: the Pulayas of Kerala, which was based on his 1971 thesis entitled Economic and social changes in Kerala: the Pulayan caste since 1800, which she completed at the University of Paris VII under the supervision of anthropologist Louis Dumont. Prior to her doctoral studies, she had studied at the Government College for Women and University College in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, according to her obituary in The hindu. She started her career as an economist at the Bureau of Economic and Statistical Studies in Kerala, and she joined the Indian Statistical Institute in New Delhi in 1961 and taught there until 1988. Dr Saradamoni died on the 26th. May in his home in Kowdiar, Thiruvananthapuram. . She was 93 years old.
Dr Saradamoni has been described as “a social scientist, economist, respected writer and inspiration to generations of feminists in Kerala” by The minute of the news, and Thread remembered that she “tore up every piece of wisdom she received on whatever topic she’s talked about to provoke and engage everyone around” and elaborated thus:
Even those who thought she belonged to their camp were often stunned by her ruthless introspection exercises. And when she was just a listener, she invariably got up after every speech to throw a volley of hard-hitting questions at the speaker.
The same article in The Wire also explained what was so explosive about Dr Saradamoni’s research on gender and caste in Kerala:
She was a pioneer in many ways. Achieving education and health on an equal basis with men has long been the conventional indicator of women’s empowerment and hailed as a proud achievement of Kerala’s famous development model. However, since the 1980s, the model has come under critical scrutiny for its many limitations and setbacks.
Among them, the persistent forms of discrimination faced by women in Kerala despite advances in education and health, prompting researchers in women’s studies to reflect on the ‘gloom behind the pomp’ and the ‘conundrum’. of the woman of Kerala ”. Most discussed was the “invisible woman of Kerala” and her blatant absence from positions of power. She barely had a marginal presence in the legislature, leading even supposedly progressive political parties, she ran a lot behind men in labor participation, and the atrocities against her too were no less numerous in Kerala than in the badlands. “BIMARU”.
It was then that one woman in particular was justified in mourning this paradox for many years, often upsetting her own left-wing comrades, the unsuspecting champions of the Kerala model. Surprisingly, even as a young student in the 1950s, Saradamoni wrote about the need for women to go beyond education and health to achieve true autonomy and the need to fight for justice. within families. It was almost a decade before the birth of Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, the American theorist of intersectionality.
A list (although incomplete) of his many, many publications on a wide range of subjects can be found at World Cat.
Dr Saradamoni was in contact with heterodox economists in the United States and attended the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE) summer conference in 1997. She was also a subscriber and long-time supporter of Dollars and common sense. In 2003, she published a volume of articles by Dollars and common sense which she translated into Malayam, the language spoken by some 38 million people in the state of Kerala. The anthology of the book was published under the title “Marunna Lokam Mattunnatare? (“Do you want to change the world?”) By Prabhatham Printing & Publishing Co. in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Here are the covers of the book, and Dr Saradamoni’s inscription in the copy that her daughter, Asha Gopinathan, brought by the D&S office in 2012:
And here is the anthology table of contents in English:
We are fortunate to have had the solidarity and support of such an important scholar and activist as K. Saradamoni, who herself has certainly changed the world, for the better.
We offer our deepest condolences to his family.