Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Zeena Zakharia

Second Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Third Advisor

Janaki Natarajan Tschannerl


The purpose of this critical interpretive study was twofold: first, to develop a critical caste theory in education based on Dalit women’s liberation epistemologies, as expressed through the intergenerational Burrakatha oral tradition and the Indigenous Budagajangama people’s life experiences in southern India; and second, to develop a decastizing research methodology to inform future scholarship on the persistence of caste-based inequalities and the possibilities for liberation through education. The author interviewed Burrakatha practitioners, folklore professors, and Budagajangama community members, and observed performances of Burakatha songs across the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. Through inductive analysis, the author conceptualized decastization to develop a methodology that centers Dalit liberation epistemology. The study considered how the social reproduction of caste occurs for those who embody resistance intergenerationally. Although the Budagajangamas have been given untouchable status as a consequence of their resistance art, they continue to oppose the caste system through their art. The community’s embodiment of this contradiction highlights their unrelenting, restless search for liberation and the life-giving, life-sustaining, and life-saving education that Burrakatha offers for the Budagajangamas and humanity. Acknowledging Indigenous epistemologies as theories offers an alternative to Brahminical and casteist analyses of the Dalit population and aids in decastizing the academic disciplines.


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