Meet Aatika Singh: South Asia Working Group at Stanford Fellow

Meet our 2023-24 South Asia Working Group (SAWG) at Stanford Fellow, Aatika Singh!

What do you want people to know about you? 
I am Aatika. I am a first-year Ph.D. scholar at the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University. I think of myself as an artist, scholar and activist. I am also pursuing a PhD (Minor) from the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. I research the philosophical and political connections of aesthetics to Dalit cultural history and assertion. In the same vein, my doctoral project analyses the issue of defacement of Ambedkarite iconography, its amalgam with legality and the intervention of critical caste studies. I finished my master's from the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2022. I have been published with, The Hindu, The Wire, Cafe Dissensus, Trolley Times, Indian Cultural Forum et al. I am passionate about third world solidarities, emotional labour, and subaltern philosophy. While doing academics, I try to also protest and love.

What made you want to join SAWG? What made you want to become a coordinator?
 I have been really interested since a long time in sustaining a collective space that looks at marginalised folks and their culture as radical. My own Dalit feminist positioning, activism and persistent marginality had made me realise the urgent need of horizontal engagement in the humanities. As a scholar in the western academia, I strongly felt I had to further this engagement through love and solidarity. Hence SAWG proved to be fundamental in my aspirations to engage, share and collaborate across the panoply of South Asia. I see the platform as a community from which I learn. As a coordinator, I am adapting key values of creating, leadership, ethical communication, articulation etc. It has bestowed me with responsibility, as well as care towards myself and others. I also look forward to working with my comrades, including the coordinator, Marlon Ariyasinghe. 

What are you interested in accomplishing with SAWG?
 I am interested in making SAWG a space that is a sanctuary for all the marginalised folks. I do not know how much of it is truly possible within the disciplinary confines of the university, however I envisage the discourse to be progressive, and layered with care. I am aware I am building upon the shoulders of intellectual giants who only wanted to leave the world a better place than what they had received. I am also extending the boundaries of this group to include the people I keep learning with, including all the anti-caste, and left circles I have been a part of so far. I would like us to talk about politics, social justice and issues of land, labour et al. I would hope this space to be gentle to unlearning, negation and debates. I see these conversations as increasingly becoming difficult in the world and hence SAWG must act as a scaffolding. In the end, I want SAWG and everyone who’s a part of it to know they are seen and understood.

Are you a Stanford student and are interested in becoming a SAWG fellow? Email Lalita du Perron, lalita [at] (lalita[at]stanford[dot]edu), to express interest and learn more about the role.