Shyam Sharma, a scholar of Writing and Rhetoric at Stony Brook campus of the State University of New York, joined the Writing for Social Justice initiative when Dalit Reader organized an op-ed writing course in 2018. As one of the three facilitators, along with program organizer Subhash Nepali and another facilitator Tom Robertson, Shyam provided some support in the design of the course and led some of the workshop sessions that focused on writing skills.
“We choose to put our efforts and achievements of knowledge work to particular purposes,” says Shyam. “Whether that is personal and rather selfish or socially driven and cause-based matters.” He adds that we don’t learn to learn, calling that idea “the knowledge politics of denying the politics of knowledge.” We must counter the politics of depoliticizing knowledge production, as much as that of depoliticized hegemonic history, that has written Dalit and other communities off the margins, adds Shyam.
In 2018, Shyam joined Subhas to organize a 2-day writing workshop in Butwal for a group of 27 Dalit and ally writers; we took these writers, from across the country, through the process of telling and thematizing stories of prejudice and injustice, exploring social themes through personal narratives, discussing how we might be able to use research in such writing and connect it to policy work, and so on. Shyam also joined Subhash at Martin Chautari later that summer, facilitating a discussion/workshop titled “Writing for Social Justice: Unequal Structures of Knowledge Production.” The collaboration and conversation on this broader issue have continued informally and formally.
Shyam is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director at the Program in Writing and Rhetoric. As a scholar with a background in critical pedagogy, an experienced writer who engages the public on issues of equity and justice in higher education, and a productive research scholar with a specialization in writing in the academic disciplines, Shyam visits Nepal and continually engages with the academic community through his writing and collaboration. He is interested in bringing into DR initiatives his fellow writing and research specialists from his institution and beyond in the United States.