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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
Part I: History
Anti-Brahmanical and Hindu Nationalist Reconstructions of Indian
History: Dalit Mobilisation and Nationalist Past
Making of an Identity:
Meghwals of Rajasthan
Contested History of
Dalits: An Alternative Perspective
The Problem of Cultural
Part II: Literature
Limbale’s Towards an Aesthetic of Dalit Literature: From Erasure
Struggle for Identity
and Dignity: Dalit Literature in Hindi and Joothan
Meaning of Work in
The Making of History:
Autobiographical Extracts of Shantabai Kamble, Kumud Pawde and
Shifting Terrains: The
Fashioning of the Tamil Dalit Subject
Part III: Religion
Is Caste System
Intrinsic to Hinduism? Demolishing a Myth
Popular Religion and
Social Mobility in Colonial Bengal: The Matua Sect and the
Consciousness and the Ad Dharm Movement in Punjab,
The Time of the Dalit
Notes on the Contributors