In Memoriam: Eleanor Zelliot

Please visit Eleanor’s remembrance page on the Carleton Farewells website.

Eleanor Zelliot (October 7, 1926-June 5, 2016) was a specialist on the History of India, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, women of Asia, Untouchables, and social movements. She co-founded Carleton’s interdisciplinary program in South Asian Studies.

She wrote over eighty articles and edited three books on the movement among Untouchables in India led by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, on saint-poets of the medieval period, and on the current Ambedkar-inspired Buddhist movement, The Experience of Hinduism, From Untouchable to Dalit: Essays on the Ambedkar Movement, and Untouchable Saints, an Indian Phenomenon. Eleanor’s fourth book Ambedkar’s World: The Making of Babasaheb and the Dalit Movement, Navayana Publishing, was published in 2013. See also Eleanor’s bibliography and additional publications.

Professor Zelliot spoke at the South Asia Seminar of the University of Minnesota on April 22, 2009, “Connected Peoples: The Role of Pilgrimage in the Structure of the Ambedkar Movement.”

During her career at Carleton, she served the College in many ways, but most importantly she was a legendary teacher, who inspired two generations of students. She was a prodigious scholar and a world renowned expert in the area of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the Untouchable Movement in India. She took many students to India on the ACM program, and was Director of the program four times since 1971; the last time was 1996. She published a large number of articles, reviews and books helping the research of scholars and students all over the world. She wholly gave of herself to her students, her friends and her acquaintances, indeed to all who knew her. She was well-known for her sparkling sense of humor and her enormous capacity for generosity in every way.

After retirement, Professor Zelliot continued to advise and work with students on projects having to do with South Asia. She also continued to connect many students and colleagues to friends in India and abroad.