Readings on Dalit Identity: History, Literature and Religion
Swaraj Basu
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
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Orient BlackSwan

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Social oppression over the centuries in the name of caste and tradition denied a large section of the Indian population its rightful place in society. The cultural world and contribution of these people remained largely ignored. Resistance to the ideology of caste and the assertion by Dalits for equity and justice have found expression through writings over a period of time.

Since the 1970s, there have been attempts by scholars across disciplines to shed light on the cultural world of Dalits by constructing alternative historical and religious traditions, and even today, Dalit identity continues to be an important agenda of academic debate.

This volume brings together a diverse selection of writings that looks at how, through the reinterpretation of history, literature and religion, Dalits challenged their ascribed status and created a new identity for themselves. It examines the Dalit deconstruction of the Aryan migration theory, rewriting of the historical narrative, identity formation, cultural symbolism and memory, Dalit literature and women in Dalit autobiographies, ideas and notions of work, religion and caste identity, and the linkage between Dalit conversion and the question of decolonisation.

Swaraj Basu is Professor, School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University.

Preface and Acknowledgements

Publishers’ Acknowledgements


Part I: History

  1. Contested Past: Anti-Brahmanical and Hindu Nationalist Reconstructions of Indian Prehistory

Michael Bergunder

  1. Inventing Caste History: Dalit Mobilisation and Nationalist Past

Badri Narayan

  1. Making of an Identity: Meghwals of Rajasthan

Rajshree Dhali

  1. Contested History of Dalits: An Alternative Perspective

Swaraj Basu

  1. The Problem of Cultural Memory

D. R. Nagaraj

Part II: Literature

  1. Reading Sharankumar Limbale’s Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature: From Erasure to Assertion

Alok Mukherjee

  1. Struggle for Identity and Dignity: Dalit Literature in Hindi and Joothan

J. M. Parakh

  1. Meaning of Work in Dalit Autobiographies

Shashi Bhushan Upadhyay

  1. The Making of History: Autobiographical Extracts of Shantabai Kamble, Kumud Pawde and Urmila Pawar

Raj Kumar

  1. Shifting Terrains: The Fashioning of the Tamil Dalit Subject

Krishnamurthy Alamelu Geetha

Part III: Religion

  1. Is Caste System Intrinsic to Hinduism? Demolishing a Myth

M. V. Nadkarni

  1. Popular Religion and Social Mobility in Colonial Bengal: The Matua Sect and the Namasudras

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay

  1. Untouchability, Dalit Consciousness and the Ad Dharm Movement in Punjab,

Ronki Ram

  1. The Time of the Dalit Conversion

Gyanendra Pandey

Notes on the Contributors


A Voice to the Dalit Cause | Economic and Political Weekly, January 2017
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