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Dalit Histories, Gender Formations: A Conversation with Journalist Meena Kotwal

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This talk is co-sponsored by the Center for South Asia at Stanford University and the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). 

This event is hybrid. Register here if you would like to connect virtually. 

Moderated by Anjali Arondekar, Professor in Feminist Studies, UCSC and Founding Director, Center for South Asian Studies UCSC

Meena Kotwal is a journalist and founder of The Mooknayak, an online news channel and website that covers issues related to the persecution of the Dalit, tribal, and minority communities, and which advocates for social justice and democracy for the marginalized.

Throughout her sterling career, Meena has worked at several reputable media institutions, including ‘BBC Hindi,’ where she showcased her journalistic excellence. Her work has been featured in the esteemed Deutsche Welle (DWNews), the renowned German media outlet. This recognition, along with features in prestigious publications like ‘The New York Times,’ ‘Le Figaro,’ ‘Voice of America,’ ‘Khaleej Times,’ ‘Arab News,’ ‘Jordan News,’ and many more. In 2023, Meena Kotwal delivered her speech at University of Michigan, Harvard & University of Columbia. She has also been the recipient of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication Alumni Association (IIMCAA) Awards for Feature Reporting, Developmental Reporting, and Investigative Reporting.

As a journalist from a marginalized community in India, the driving force behind starting The Mooknayak was Kotwal’s own experience with caste-based discrimination. Meena’s journalistic work is grounded in lifting up underrepresented communities, namely Dalits, backward classes, women, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ communities, and minorities. After calling out mainstream news organizations for caste-based discrimination, and being “boycotted” by many media houses, in January 2021, Kotwal founded The Mooknayak, an independent online media outlet that takes its name from the newspaper of the same name launched by Babasaheb Ambedkar in 1920—a name that translates to “the leader of the voiceless.” A recent survey report by the humanitarian organization Oxfam and Newslaundry Media Institute on the representation of tribals, Dalits, and OBCs in the media has found that The Mooknayak’s newsroom has the highest diversity in digital media, with 54 percent of the journalists in the newsroom coming from Dalit and backward societies.


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