Crossing the Boundaries of Genre and Challenging Form in Dalit Literature

An International Symposium at Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier
October 17-18, 2014

This conference was the third event of an AHRC funded Research Network series, ‘Writing, Analysing, Translating Dalit Literature’. After the first events of the series in Nottingham and Leicester (June 2014), the theme of this two-day symposium in Montpellier was the analysis of the innovative and experimental features of Dalit literature. We invited papers on the revisiting of features of the novel through other genres, the use of multiple narrators and non-linear, complex narrative structures. We aimed to examine how genres merged or clashed with each other and to what effect and purpose. How did these interactions translate from the vernacular Indian languages into European languages, or to what extent did they not translate? Speakers were also encouraged to explore the ways in which dalit literature drew on other artistic modes of expression such as performance or visual arts. We asked speakers to address the following questions: Do dalit texts transgress conventional genre boundaries, or do they evoke marginalised dalit cultural forms of expression and tradition? How closely do the visual, the literary and the political dimensions intertwine and combine? What narrative is being built through these interconnections between the visual and the literary? Performance and visual arts may help us to unravel the issues linked to representation and eschew a vision that would be based on a desire for so-called authentic representations of Dalit experience.

Click here to see the programme.

See below the event’s list of abstracts:

Abstracts

Joshil K ABRAHAM (G B Pant Engineering College, IP University)

Reading Kerala Modernity through Caste and/in Cinema: Analysing Vigathakumaran and Papilio Buddha

The Bulletin of the International Film Festival of Kerala held in 2013 at Trivandrum, was entitled ‘75 years of Malayalam cinema’. Two Malayalam films were conveniently omitted by the IFFK, one of which happens to be Vigathakumaran (1930) directed by J.C Daniel, which was ‘unofficially‘ banned by the dominant upper caste Nairs as its heroine, P.K Rosy belonged to a Pulaya (Dalit) community. This long forgotten film got renewed public attention with the release of Celluloid (2013) by Kamaluddin Mohammed Majeed (Kamal), which dealt with the making, release and non-recognition of Vigathakumaran and its director J.C Daniel, a Nadar Christian, alleged not to be a ‘Malayalee’ enough.

While critics argue that Vigathakumaran was banned and forgotten because it happened in pre-Modernist Kerala where caste was still an issue, when we analyse the fate of Dalit actors and characters in Malayalam cinema even in the present times, it is not much different. This paper will analyse the presence/absence of Dalit actors and characters in present day Malayalam cinema. As an entry to this investigation I will engage with the Malayalam movie Papilio Buddha (2013) directed by Jayan K Cherian. The film talks about the complex relationships that Dalits are involved in with communism, government, mainstream sexuality, gendered roles and the environment. The language used in the movie seems to have threatened the ‘literate’ Kerala audience and the censor board. They termed the language ‘filthy’ and ‘derogatory’. I will look into the aspects of the use of language, sexuality and gender roles in Dalit and non-Dalit movies and examine how it challenges Kerala’s Modernity. The paper will also try to compare the differences in the narrative structures of Dalit and non-Dalit movies, arguing that Dalit narratives, when cinematized, disturb the linearity of Kerala’s hegemonic Modernity. Thus the paper would argue that the discourse of caste and/in cinema breaks the linear narrative of Kerala’s Modernity.

 

Deeptha ACHAR (Department of English, Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda)

Notes on Reading Dalit Art

Dalit art is a relatively new category. Investigations of Dalit art have conventionally been found as a part of anthropological or folklore studies and only in the past decade or so have there been discussions on the idea of Dalit art in art criticism or visual culture. These discussions have taken either a recuperative route by invoking traditional Dalit practice or they have concentrated on the idea of visual imagery in the context of Dalits in the public sphere. In rare instances there is a focus on a particular artist or work and these have, in many cases, been either very tentative or sharply polemical. This is in contrast to the idea of Dalit literature.

The central question that confronts the idea of Dalit art is the question of the visual representation of caste. How does one represent the Dalit through the drawing of a figure, a landscape or an object? What are the visual resources that the artist could draw on? How does she set up visual modes of address in the context of the caste? How would these ‘caste’ images engage the visual repertoire of the viewer? Drawing from representations of caste in modern Indian art, I attempt to track the formal and conceptual trajectory that such representations have taken.

 

Santosh DASH (Arts and Commerce College, Savli, Baroda)

Of Subjecthood and Form: On Reading Two Dalit Short Stories from Gujarat

Dalit literature, whose beginning in Gujarat is usually traced to the anti-reservation riots of the 1980s, has significantly marked itself away from the mainstream in ways that have come to challenge many aesthetic categories of conventional writing. Far from being derivative, this new literature has developed in response to mainstream challenges on the aesthetic front and also, more importantly, has grown out of its own internal demand for finding formal and generic properties suitable for the depiction of the social in Gujarat. In fact, in the last forty years, its trajectory bears witness to many creative innovations, formal as well as material.

My concern in the paper would be to look for, in the aesthetic concerns of the evolving Dalit short story form in Gujarat, the radical proposal for a more productive articulation of the social in literature. My concern also would be to see in the historical practices of the Dalit short story form the evolving contours of an aesthetics that is uncompromisingly committed to the social. Through a reading of two short stories: Rakhopana Saap and Breathlessness, one taken from the first collection of Gujarati Dalit short stories Gujarati Dalit Vartha (1987) and the other from a more recently published collection, The City of Dust and Lust (2010), I intend to explore the generic and social transactions that are underway in Dalit short stories in Gujarat and see how their interactions have kept the space open for innovation and creativity with regard to subjecthood and form.

My focus, however, would be on following the ideas of sex, caste and untouchability and their complex articulation in these short stories. The point would be partly to mark the continuity of sexual exploitation of Dalit women and the repetition of this narrative concern in Dalit writing. But more significantly, the attempt would be to see if the depiction of this aspect of women’s sexual life in Dalit writing has built into the short story form properties which, when these stories are read along the axis of caste and class, would make way not just for readings around patriarchy, power and dominance but also around art, aesthetics and formal innovation.

 

Raj Kumar HANS (The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda)

Encounters with Issues from Local to Global in Dalit Creativity: While Reading Des Raj Kali’s Hypertext Novel Shanti Parav

 Kali is a renowned Punjabi writer, journalist and activist. Shanti Parav (2009) is the second in a projected series of his 7 novels. The idea of Shanti (peace) Parav is taken from Mahabharata where it forms the last part of the epic. Whereas the concluding part in the classical epic justifies the pros and cons of bloodshed in the ‘great war’ after peace prevails, Kali critically looks at the consequences of the Partition holocaust as package of the Indian Independence. Kali experiments with hypertext technique to weave his narrative that runs parallel on each page. The supertext is a fictional set of narratives, independent and yet interconnected, about everyday life in an urban setting. The subtext carries rumblings of 3 real characters — Comrade, Bhag Mal Paagal and Retired Professor Johal. The upper narrative weaves a world of diverse people in an older neighbourhood of Jalandhar city; the world of older women, complexities of entangled relationships, inter-caste marriages, sexuality, pressures, strains, pains and pangs of poor Dalits, middle class, of addicted people, their sufferings and humanity. It brings in the characters from countryside to city hospitals and gardens, and beautifully portrays the alienation of all kinds. The subtext, in italics, is a critical look at the ‘system’ through real life characters’ analytical frames—Marxist, Dalit, Academic — as they talk to the writer-listener. This is made interesting by smaller fictional interjections. The novel is subversive, powerfully political and interestingly readable as it has a seductive technique to attract readers’ attention despite its risk with experimental form, a novelty for the Punjabi readers. Due to its non-linear hypertext form, the writer suggests/helps the reader in the upper narrative, as he does in the prefatory notes, how to read the novel and when and where to change tracts between texts. Nonetheless, a reader is free to adopt his/her own ways. There are multiple narrators at both levels and the novel can be read in parts from anywhere. It is a brilliant experiment in narrative, a landmark, with no known parallel in Indian vernacular literatures. The paper would analyse the body and spirit, the form and content of the novel to reach out to the changing scale of Dalit consciousness.

 

Dolores HERRERO (University of Zaragoza)

Meena Kandasamy’s The Gypsy Goddess: A Postmodern Novel with a Fearsome Political Agenda

Meena Kandasamy’s debut novel The Gypsy Goddess tackles the plight of a community of Dalit agricultural labourers who live and work in inhuman conditions, coping with the unrelenting oppression and heartbreaking atrocities inflicted upon them by their ruthless upper-caste landlords in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. In particular, this novel revolves around the massacre that took place in the village of Kilvenmani on Christmas day, 1968. The aim of this presentation will be to analyse the different ways in which Kandasamy, so far known as a critically acclaimed poet, uses the novel as a literary genre, together with some well-known postmodern theories and strategies, in order to disclose the shortcomings of traditional plot-driven linear novels, criticise the exoticism so often displayed in contemporary Indian fiction, unearth the ‘other’ side of official Indian history, dig up the traumatic story of an entire Dalit community’s fight for freedom, and give voice to those who were for so long relegated to silence, invisibility and oblivion. Many are the devices that the novel uses to shock readers and make them play an active role in their harrowing reading process: the narration is by no means linear and contains a variety of narrative voices; there is an alternation of first/second/ third-person narration and no actual protagonist, since the novel does not specifically delve into the deeds and traumas of any individual character; different chapters take different forms: a letter, a communist pamphlet, a postmodern digression on the very nature of story-telling, chronologically ordered stories vs. disconnected accounts of fragmented traumatic experiences, etc. The study of these elements will allow me to conclude that the experimental nature of this novel allows Kandasamy to confront readers with an unpalatable reality that no conventional realist novel could have possibly depict with such poignancy and forcefulness.

 

Jondhale Rahul HIRAMAN (The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad)

The Representation of Dalit Conversion to Buddhism in Marathi Dalit Literature: A Critical Reading

It has been generally observed and argued that the contemporary Dalit literature in Marathi is the outcome of conversion to Buddhism among the Dalits, especially the ‘Mahars’ (one of the major Dalit communities) in Maharashtra (scholars like Jayashree Gokhale and Eleanor Zelliot have shown that in their works on Dalit Literature). It has been also believed that what is today called Dalit Literature comes up from the Dalit literary movements grew out of conversion to Buddhism in Maharashtra. It is true that unlike other Dalit conversions to Christianity/Islam, conversion to Buddhism among Dalits (especially Mahars) stands unique that has resulted in the production of enormous amount of Dalit writings. It is also true that what we see today as Dalit literature in Marathi is the outcome of Ambedkarite movement and Dalit (Mahar) conversion to Buddhism. Nonetheless, the Dalit literature produced in Marathi by the Dalits (especially the Mahars) has some sort of a Buddhist aspect attached to their writing. This Buddhist aspect of Dalit literature, on the one hand, represents the beginning of a new era in the life of Dalits after their conversion to Buddhism, and highlights the importance of this new mobilization that gave them new socio-religious and political identity. On the other hand, it also discusses and debates the contradictions that this idea of conversion has thrown up in the contemporary times. Going by this, one can argue that this contemporary Marathi Dalit literature does not only glorify conversion but also presents a context where constructive criticism around the idea of conversion is established.

This paper focuses on representation of the issue of Dalit conversion to Buddhism in contemporary Marathi Dalit literature. For this purpose, an attempt is made to look for such Dalit writings (Autobiographies, short-stories, and poems), which represent, discuss and debate the issue of conversion.

 

Aniket JAAWARE (Savitribai Phule Pune University)

Dalit Literature: Consumption, Destitution and Further

 In my presentation I will attempt to track the movement from my previously published article ‘Eating and Eating with the Dalit’ in which I attempted a kind of contextural analysis of Marathi Dalit Poetry, to a more politically and ethically oriented analysis of some of Baburao Bagul’s short stories, in ‘Destitute Literature’. However, that line of thought needs to be taken further, and I will attempt to do so. One possible line of development is to attempt a description or even an analysis of caste itself, within which to re-situate Dalit literature, as literature.

 

Nicolas Jaoul (CNRS, Paris)

Embodying Dalit Radicality: Rebels and Victims on Stage

Based on an article published in South Asia Popular Culture in 2013 (Politicizing Victimhood: The Dalit Panthers’ Response to Caste Violence In Uttar Pradesh in the Early 1980s), my presentation will discuss the translation of Dalit radicality from textuality to body language, and what can be learned from it regarding Dalit emancipation that cannot be read in texts alone. In Uttar Pradesh in the early 1980s, the Dalit Panthers’ radical intervention in the field of  Dalit  politics took place in a context of anti-Dalit violence by the dominant castes. While Gandhi’s consensual reformism dominated the public discourse on the untouchable question, a new generation of radicalized Dalit youngsters sought their emancipation through the symbolic appropriation of violence. Focusing their politics on the Dalit proletariat’s revolutionary agency, the Panthers did not merely stand against the Gandhian notion of the harmless and pitiful ‘harijan’ victim. This article argues that their radical politics was more ambiguous than what is generally admitted, by showing that they also relied on previously existing victimology as the relevant moral terrain to recreate the emancipated Dalit subject. Concentrating on the predicaments inherent to the political resignification of culturally constituted subjects (as highlighted by Judith Butler), it analyzes photographs taken at the Dalit Panthers’ first political meetings in Uttar Pradesh. This empirical material conveys the Panthers’ body language of radicality, thus offering insights into their political uses of previously existing nationalist idioms and semiologies when seeking to politicize victimhood.

 

Devika MEHRA (Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi)

From Gulamgiri to A Gardener in the Wasteland: A Study of Appropriating and Reworking Dalit Literature in Twenty-first Century

The dynamics of popular culture can be mapped by studying the emergence of newer mode of storytelling where text becomes a site of resistance as well as a cultural artifact. Such is the case with graphic novels and comics that incorporate and assimilate different genres, forms and techniques. With the increasing popularity of comics and graphic novels a new discursive space has opened up for negotiating issues of untouchability and oppression. The use of innovative narrative technique, word-image play and comic/graphic art change the dynamics of the text, which in turn, facilitate creation of counter-narratives that rework, revision and appropriate older works for contemporary readers. In this paper, I am going to look at the reworking and adaptation of Jotiba Phule’s Gulamgiri (Slavery) in the graphic novel, A Gardener in the Wasteland: Jotiba Phule’s Fight for Liberty (2011) by Srividya Natrajan and Aparajita Ninan (illustrator). My focus is going to be on the formal and stylistic elements of the text and how the medium of graphic novel is used to transform a historical non-fictional work giving it a new dimension by fusing different forms and modes of storytelling such as comic-book format with dialogue form along with that of contexts—past and present, historical and contemporary. The entire text uses images in various ways to foreground, extrapolate and revisit Phule’s Gulamgiri to look at Dalit oppression and struggle for liberty from a new vantage point creating new meanings and new spaces for its discussion in a popular medium.

 

Anupama RAO (Columbia University, New York)

The Literature of Emancipation

The emergence of anti-caste thought was predicated on imagining new modes of political subjectivity, and on developing forms of narration adequate to it. My presentation will argue that the project of intellectual emancipation, a crucial arc of anticaste thought, produced a distinctive relationship between ‘thought’, and ‘everyday life’, and in so doing also constituted a social theory of caste as (social) totality. My presentation will thus address the issue of political aesthetics as a way of getting at the specificity of Dalit literature.

My presentation will draw upon arguments that appear in the essay, ‘Revisiting Interwar Thought: Stigma, Labor, and the Immanence of Caste-Class’, in Cosimo Zene (ed.) The Political Philosophies of Antonio Gramsci and B. R. Ambedkar: Subalterns and Dalits (London: Routledge, 2013: 43-58).

 

RAVICHANDRAN (Dalit Camera)

Internet Video Archives and Contemporary Dalit Politics: A study on Dalit Camera

In India, last two decades of the 20th century witnessed a number of cases of atrocities on dalits. It is also a notable factor that, during this period dalits started to form their own organizations across India, to address these atrocities. Consequently, for the first time, dalit writers, critics, lyricists, theatre artists, etc. have emerged, giving a voice to forgotten and forsaken narratives of oppression and resistance, in order to address their discrimination, contributing to a debate in the civil society. Paradoxically, these discussions on and movements contributing to dalit thoughts and everyday dalit narratives are largely unknown to the majority. Dalits have been subjected to a systemized denial of basic literary education; and hence, their narratives, until recently, have remained within the realms of oral and mnemonic transmission. The presence of these alternate narratives and historiographies has remained largely negated by the mainstream third estate. In this juncture, the advent of new media has challenged the monopoly of power, with an erosion of historically developed hierarchal demarcations. The emergence of this new public space that is structured on anonymous egalitarianism while remaining socially involved has provided a platform for dalit writers and activists to broadcast their narratives to a wider global audience. It is at this juncture that this paper finds its niche to talk about a YouTube channel – Dalit Camera as a medium of documenting the new knowledge, with special reference to internet and its impact. Among varied issues, Dalit Camera has been documenting Dalit perceptions about dominant Hindu festivals and challenged their origins as mythicized narratives of brahmin supremacy. In addition, Dalit Camera has also made an attempt to provide greater visibility, audibility and recognition to dalit narratives in the form of ballads, songs, street plays, etc. Dalit Camera:

https://www.youtube.com/user/kadhirnilavan

 

Manohar REDDY (EFL University, Hyderabad)

Caste on Campus: Literary Associations and Dalit Student Politics in a South Indian University

This paper analyzes the literature produced by the Dalit students of University of Hyderabad. It is unprecedented in the history of independent India that a group of Dalit students founded three literary associations and brought out several important volumes of literature with no support from others. Most of this literature was authored by Dalit students as part of their struggle against caste discrimination they experienced inside and outside the classroom. Comprising mostly of poetry and short stories, it became the site of struggle and emancipation for them. In many ways, this literature challenged the upper caste Telugu literary traditions. For instance, G. Lakshmi Narasaiah, the well-known literary critic, in his introduction to one of the collections Gunde Dappu (The Drumbeat of the Heart) argues that these young poets reinvented ways of using Dalit cultural imagery such as Dappu, a musical instrument similar to drum. Moreover, the language deployed here is very different from the Sanskritized standard Telugu as well as the secular Telugu used by the ‘progressive’ writers, and has roots in the Dalit cultural-material world. This literature also employs radical narrative strategies. For instance, often the narrator’s voice does not represent the modern secular subject ‘I’ but speaks on behalf of the Dalit community as a whole. Put together, such literary innovations characterize the new Dalit aesthetic.

The paper also looks at Madiga literature, particularly by Nagappagari Sunderraju, which raised the question of inequality among the Dalits. Sunderraju too experimented with both form and content in his stories. He employed a variety of Telugu spoken by the Madigas of his native Anatapur district and his stories dealt with and imagined a new Madiga life-world with full of images and real-life characters from Madiga Keris (colonies).

 

List of Bios:

Joshil K ABRAHAM completed his Masters in English Literature from Pondicherry central University, India, and has taught in colleges in Kerala and Delhi. He worked as Research Assistant in Cinema Studies Department, SAA, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. He has presented papers in international conferences including the Conrad Conference held in Bath Spa University, UK in 2012. He is currently working as a Lecturer at G B Pant Engineering College, IP University. He is co-editor of the Routledge volume Dalit Literatures in India: In, Out and Beyond (forthcoming 2014). joshilkabraham@gmail.com

Deeptha ACHAR teaches at the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, MS University, Baroda. Her publications include The Age of Adventure: Childhood, Reading and British Boys’ Fiction (2010) and she has co-edited, among others, Towards a New Art History: Studies in Indian Art (2003), Discourse, Democracy and Difference (2010) and Articulating Resistance: Art and Activism in India (2012).  She received the SSRC South Asia Research Fellowship for a project that looked at the relationship between work and education. Her research interests include Childhood Studies, Visual Culture Studies and the history of education in India. deeptha.achar@gmail.com

Santosh DASH teaches English in an undergraduate college at Savli, Gujarat. His M. Litt. At CIEFL, Hyderabad, was on Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality and the question of Enlightenment. His doctoral research was completed at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda where he worked on caste critiques of education. His dissertation is published as English Education and the Question of Indian Nationalism: A Perspective on the Vernacular. He has received the South Asia Regional Research Fellowship as well as the SARPF Collaborative Grant from SSRC, New York for translation and comparative research. He is presently working on nineteenth and early twentieth century Gujarati writing and has completed the translation of a Gujarati memoir, Vananchal. santoshkumardash@gmail.com

Raj Kumar HANS was born in a Punjabi village and graduated from Guru Nanak Dev University in 1977. For doctoral studies he moved to the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda where he has been teaching history since 1983. He shifted his field of research from economic to social and cultural history. Taking a comparative view of the regional cultural formations of the Indic civilization, he has been studying Gujarat and Punjab. For the last few years he has focused his attention on the study of Sikhism and Punjabi Dalit literature. His articles and papers on Gujarat and Punjab history have been published in journals and edited books. He was awarded a Fellowship at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (2009-11) to write his monograph on a history of Punjabi Dalit literature, which is now being finalised for the press. He has travelled abroad on Fellowships and to participate in conferences. Currently he is working on history of Dalits in the Sikh religion. rajkhans@yahoo.com

Dolores HERRERO is Senior Lecturer in English and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Zaragoza, Spain. She is a member of a competitive research team currently working on the ethical and traumatic component in contemporary fiction in English.See http://cne.literatureresearch.net. Her main research interests are Cultural, Film and Postcolonial Studies. She has published numerous essays focusing on different literary and cultural issues in those fields, and has co-edited: with Marita Nadal, Margins in English and American Literature, Film and Culture (1997); and with Sonia Baelo-Allué, Between the Urge to Know and the Need to Deny: Trauma and Ethics in Contemporary British and American Literature (2011), and The Splintered Glass: Facets of Trauma in the Post-Colony and Beyond (2011). She was the Editor of Miscelanea: A Journal of English and American Studies from 1998 till 2006, and has been the Secretary of EASA as of September 2011. dherrero@unizar.es

Jondhale Rahul HIRAMAN is a Ph. D. Research scholar at The English and Foreign languages university, Hyderabad, India. He graduated with a B. A. (Honours) degree from a small town called Nanded of Marathwada region in Maharashtra. He passed his post-graduation and an M. Phil programme from EFL-U, Hyderabad. During his Post-graduation days he got introduced with Interdisciplinary courses (especially Cultural Studies) and wanted to explore the area of Dalit Studies for his research in future. He worked on Marathi Dalit Autobiographies for his M. Phil (Title: ‘Caste, Identity and Community: A Critical Reading of Dalit Autobiographies’). He has also presented two papers (one in national seminar and one in an international seminar) and both of them got published as well under the titles ‘Literature from Margins: A Historical and Critical Overview of Marathi Dalit Literature’, and ‘Modern Marathi Dalit writings: An Overview’. Currently, for his Ph. D., he is working on religious conversion and specifically looking at the experiential dimension (positive and negative aspects) of Dalit conversion to Buddhism in Maharashtra. rahulyellow@gmail.com

Aniket JAAWARE has been teaching English at the Savitribai Phule Pune University since 1993. His publications include ‘Simplifications: An Introduction to Structuralism and Poststructuralism; (Orient Blackswan 2009 reprint), ‘Neon Fish in Dark Water (MapinLit 2007), an edition of Hamlet for Pearson Longman), and some translations from English and Marathi. aniket.jaaware@gmail.com

Nicolas JAOUL has been a researcher in anthropology at the CNRS since 2008. He is a specialist of the Ambedkarite movement and the manners in which other political traditions (Gandhians, Hindu Nationalists, Marxists) have addressed the Dalit question in different regions and different periods. His multidisciplinary approach of the local cultures of Dalit emancipation reflects on the manners in which the organizations and activists address the Dalit populations, the kinds of mediation they propose within the official sphere,  the pedagogy they invent in order to translate the anti-caste ideology into accessible language, narratives and objects, while at the same time highlighting the popular resistances met by their moral authority. His focus on the material culture of the local movements (images, statues and human bodies, the uses of space…) provides the ethnographic material to grasp the complicated logics of emancipation in a concrete manner. jaoul.nicolas@gmail.com

Devika MEHRA is a research scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. She is currently working on Children’s Cinema as a genre in India for her Ph. D. She is interested in children’s literature and popular culture, especially how they construct and reconstruct ideas of childhood, and the influence of media conglomeration, globalization and consumerism on the world of children’s literature in India and the World. Her pre-doctoral dissertation was on the changing constructions of childhood in select British and American children’s fiction where she attempted a symptomatic and cross-cultural comparative study of eleven cycles written between 1940s till 2010. She has recently presented a paper, ‘Locating Constructions of Childhood in Dalit Literature’ at a conference (International Conference on Dalit Literature and Historiography: Resistance and Reconstruction) held at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi; and another, ‘Constructions of Childhood Pranks as Modes of Resistance in West Asian Cinema’ at the National Seminar: South and West Asian Literature and Film: Narratives of Modernity, Department of English, Punjabi University, Patiala, in February 2014. devika86m@gmail.com

Anupama RAO Associate Professor, History, is the author of The Caste Question  (University of California Press, 2009). She has also written extensively on the themes of colonialism, humanitarianism, and non-Western trajectories of gender and sexuality. She is currently working the political thought of B. R. Ambedkar, and on a project entitled Dalit Bombay, which examines the relationship between caste, political culture, and everyday life in colonial and postcolonial Bombay. Her work has been supported by grants from the ACLS; the American Institute for Indian Studies; the Mellon Foundation; the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the SSRC. She was a Fellow-in-Residence at the National Humanities Center from 2008-09, and a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford during 2010-11. In 2014-2015, she will be a Fellow at REWORK (Humboldt University, Berlin). She is Senior Editor, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. arao@barnard.edu

RAVICHANDRAN born in a scavenging caste, from Tamil Nadu, did his doctoral research at EFL University, Hyderabad, on ‘Language, Caste and Territory: Scavenging Caste Language spoken across South India’. Apart from his academics, he has also been active in students’ movements, acting as the president and general secretary of the university’s Students Council and Dalit Adivasi Bahujan Minorities Students Association respectively. During this period, he realized that students’ politics in campuses are restricted to issues concerning academics. However caste is a structural problem. Henceforth he decided to spend his life productively in actively participating or contributing to the struggles of dalits, adivasis and other marginalized communities. It is in this context Dalit Camera was initiated, and he started as an individual two years before with a small still camera. He went across places where atrocities took place, recorded the voices, went to public meetings, rallies, protests, lectures, recorded biographies and uploaded on YouTube. ravi.ciefl@gmail.com

Manohar REDDY is currently a Ph.D. scholar at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, India. He taught at the Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Hyderabad and the College of Health Sciences, Saudi Arabia, for several years. He has translated stories from Telugu to English for two anthologies of dalit writing, and his authors include Gogu Shyamala, P Anuradha, Nagappagari Sunderraju, Yendluri Sudhakar and Krupakar Madiga.  He was the Charles Wallace India Trust visiting fellow in 2013 at BCLT, University of East Anglia, UK, where he translated Mohammed Khadeer Babu’s stories into English for a forthcoming volume of collected stories. He has published articles on dalit literature and Telugu cinema. manohar.168@gmail.com