This seminar explores the psychological, cultural, and historical underpinnings of prejudice, discrimination, and social justice. In addition to covering well-recognized forms of bias based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, and religion, we’ll examine intergroup dynamics more broadly, including topics such as stigma, power, privilege, and the exploitation of indigenous peoples, animals, and the natural environment. We’ll also learn about country-specific social justice challenges in the port destinations we visit, such as the caste system in India and prejudice toward Rohingya people in Burma. To gain a comprehensive perspective on prejudice, the course will include readings drawn from cross-cultural psychological and sociological research, historical and archival materials, mass media, and other sources. Perhaps most importantly, we’ll discuss cutting edge research findings on the most effective techniques to reduce prejudice and promote social justice.
Field WorkCountry: India
Date: February 28, 2018
When it comes to social status, India's caste system is one of the most highly developed and explicit hierarchies in the world. Further, the caste system in Kerala—where Semester at Sea will be visiting—is one of the most detailed and complex in India. By the late 1800s, Kerala had an elaborate social structure in which more than 500 groups were identified, ranging from the Dalit (meaning "oppressed" in Sanskrit) all the way up to the Nambudiri Brahmins, who outranked kings. In Kerala, the concept of "untouchability" of low social classes extended to unapproachability and even unseeability. Although discrimination based on such social hierarchies is now illegal, the government of Kerala still recognizes dozens of "scheduled castes and tribes" for purposes of economic and social assistance. In our field class, we will spend the morning learning about the past and present caste system in India from a panel convened by Professor D. Rajasenan, Honorary Director of the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP) at the Cochin University of Science and Technology. After lunch at Sree Krishna Inn, we will then meet residents of Lighthouse Colony, a Dalit community on Narakal Vypin Island. This meeting will begin with a reception and mutual introduction, and it will focus on the struggle for Dalit rights and daily life in Lighthouse Colony. On our journey back to the ship, we'll conclude with a debriefing session to reflect on the field class experience.
1. Learn about the past and present caste system in India
2. Learn about the Dalit people and the movement for Dalit rights
3. Compare caste-based prejudice with other forms of prejudice
4. Understand the psychology behind caste-based prejudice