Anti-caste Memes as Cultural Archives of Resistance


  • Madhavi Shivaprasad Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  • Shubhangani Jain Solidarity Foundation



Memes, CAA-NRC, Bahujans, anti-caste resistance, social media, digital cultural heritage


In this article, we make a case for looking at memes as potential digital cultural

heritage artefacts to counter hegemonic narratives around the caste system

in India. We reflect on this potentiality of memes by evaluating how three

anti-caste Facebook meme pages responded to protests against the Indian

Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC)

from December 2019 to March 2020. These pages simultaneously archived and

critiqued key moments of the protests as well as the anti-caste movement through

memes, playing a significant role in amplifying the voices of the Bahujans, the

marginalised caste groups in India. Focusing on the protest memes created by these

pages, we look at the contexts in which the protest memes could be considered

carriers, preservers, and transmitters of cultural knowledge. We argue that memes

could be understood as cultural heritage,not only as objects but as processes and

practices that constitute the building of cultural narratives. We illustrate how the

protest memes hold and demonstrate potential to become digital cultural heritage

as they simultaneously provided a much-needed alternative account of the way

the resistance played out on the streets as opposed to how mainstream media

portrayed them and archived and highlighted key moments of the protests and

the anti-caste movement.

Author Biographies

Madhavi Shivaprasad, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Madhavi Shivaprasad is a Ph. D. scholar at the Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies, School of Development Studies, with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. Her research interests include disability, media and communication, humour studies, cultural studies, and gender and sexuality studies. Her doctoral dissertation explores the discourse of gender and sexuality being constructed within and around the Indian stand-up comedy industry through this she aims to delve into the possibility of humour and its interaction with the larger Indian as well as global feminist movements. She has published previously on the subject of standup comedy with the IAFOR Journal of Media Communication and Film. She has formerly worked as an English lecturer at Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, India and as a freelance journalist for national newspapers in India.

Shubhangani Jain, Solidarity Foundation

Shubhangani Jain has completed her Master’s in Gender, Culture, and Development from Savitribai Phule Pune University. Her research interests include gender and sexuality, popular culture, humour studies, digital cultures. Her Master’s dissertation explored the discourse around nationalism and gender through Indian stand-up comedy. She is a comic-maker and writer who explores themes of politics, gender, culture through her work. She is currently working with Solidarity Foundation, Bangalore, India.


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Digital Heritage In Cultural Conflicts