Thenmozhi Soundararajan

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Thenmozhi Soundararajan speaks in the film Problema in 2013

Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a Dalit rights activist based in the United States of America.[1] She is also a transmedia storyteller, songwriter, hip hop musician and technologist.[1][2][3]

Personal life[edit]

Thenmozhi Soundararajan's parents are from a village in rural India and experienced inter-caste violence there. Her father is a doctor and her mother was the first woman from her family to get a college education.[4] She learned from her mother that she was a Dalit while at school. She had been reading about how the Bhopal disaster affected Untouchables, asked her mother some questions and was told that she, too, came from the community.[5]

Soundararajan publicly admitted to being a Dalit when she made a documentary film on caste and violence against women as a part of her college thesis at University of California, Berkeley. She says the decision had many consequences: while fellow Dalits secretly confided in her about their identity, she says that she also faced discrimination from almost all of the Indian professors in her campus, who refused to advise her on projects.[5]

Professional life[edit]

Soundararajan is a filmmaker, transmedia artist and storyteller. She is also the executive director of Third World Majority, a women of color media and technology justice training and organizing institution based in Oakland, California. She is also a co-founder of the Media Justice Network, and Third World Majority is one of the network’s national anchor organizations. In that context she has worked with over 300 community organizations across the United States.[6]

Soundararajan has used storytelling to speak about casteism within the Indian diaspora. She has worked with bassist Marvin Etizioni on her debut blues album, Broken People, which was a collection of liberation songs about people belonging to the Black and Dalit community.[7][8] Her essay and a photo series about her Dalit experience in the United States was published in Outlook magazine.[9]

In 2015, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation included her in their first group of Artist as Activist fellows.[1] She has used this fellowship to work on #DalitWomenFight, a transmedia project and activist movement.[1][10]

Soundararajan has been involved in the curation and creation of Dalit History Month, a radical history project.[11][12] Its goal is to share Dalit historians' research, which is a deviation from many scholarly projects which have studied Dalit history without leadership or collaboration from Dalits.[13]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Holpuch, Amanda (March 12, 2015). "Thenmozhi Soundararajan: fighting the Dalit women's fight with art and activism". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
  2. ^ Soundararajan, Thenmozhi (March 20, 2017). "Creating Technology by the People, for the People" (Interview). Interviewed by Laura Flanders. The Nation. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  3. ^ Kowtal, Asha; Soundararajan, Thenmozhi (May 2, 2014). "The Journey towards Liberation" (Interview). Interviewed by Sonia J. Cheruvillil. Feminist Wire. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  4. ^ Sathian, Sanjena (April 14, 2015). "Can Art Dismantle a Centuries-Old System?". OZY. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  5. ^ a b Soundararajan, Thenmozhi (July 29, 2014). "What it means to be an 'Untouchable' in 2017". Elle India. Retrieved 2016-05-29.
  6. ^ "Thenmozhi". AID Conference. Archived from the original on 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
  7. ^ Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. "Still I Rise". Dalit Cry. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  8. ^ "Thenmozhi Soundararajan". Sloan Science and Film. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  9. ^ Soundararajan, Thenmozhi (August 20, 2012). "The Black Indians". Outlook India. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
  10. ^ Booth, Katie; Maloney, Alli (November 4, 2015). "Women campaign to dismantle India's destructive caste system". Women in the World in Association with The New York Times. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  11. ^ Dalit History Matters Collective (April 1, 2015). "Dalit History Matters". Round Table India. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
  12. ^ Maneck, Ankita (2017-04-14). "Ambedkar Jayanti 2017: Here's a look at Dalit History Month to explore forgotten narratives". Firstpost. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  13. ^ Gonsalves, Roanna (November 17, 2016). "Selfie is not a dirty word". The Conversation. Retrieved August 13, 2017.

External links[edit]