15 July 2019

Call for papers 

Kala Pani Crossings: India in Conversation

A Seminar at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla

Sept 23-25, 2019

Deadline for submission: August 4

Co-convened by Ashutosh Bhardwaj, Fellow at IIAS, Shimla, India and Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak, Associate Professor at University Paul-Valery Montpellier 3, France

9 July 2019

Caste in / and Film

Call for contributions to an edited volume of critical essays to be submitted to Routledge

This volume of collected critical essays will be submitted to Routledge as a companion to Dalit Literatures in India (co-edited by Joshil K. Abraham and Judith Misrahi-Barak, Routledge 2016; 2nd edition with new introduction, 2018) and to Dalit Text: Aesthetics and Politics Reimagined (co-edited by Judith Misrahi-Barak, Nicole Thiara and K. Satyanarayana, Routledge 2019).

Caste has remained one of the most important factors in understanding the complexities of Indian society. Yet there has not been many movies that deal openly with caste. The list of movies that come to mind as referring to caste directly is somewhat short considering film is such a deeply shaping element of Indian culture. These include Frantz Osten’s Achut Kanya (1936) and Jeevhan Prabhat (1937), Bimal Roy’s Sujata (1959), Shyam Benegal’s Ankur (1974), Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen (1994), Satyajit Ray’s Sadgati (1981), Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001) and Swadesh (2004), Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan (2011), Gurvinder Singh’s Anhe Ghore Da Daan (2012), Jayan K. Cherian’s Papillio Buddha (2013), Ketan Mehta’s Manjhi The Mountain Man (2015), Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan (2014), Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court (2015), Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry (2014) and Sairat (2016), Vidhu Vincent’s Manhole (2016), Pa. Ranjith’s Kaala (2018), Mari Selvaraj’s Pariyerum Perumal (2018), Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15 (2019).

The notion that the list is short comes from the idea that caste only belongs to some, particularly those who are considered lower in the caste ladder. Hence Achut Kanya (1936) has been considered as a movie on caste but not Abhinav Kashyap’s Dabangg (2010). Achut Kanya representing the story of an ‘untouchable’ makes it a movie that discusses caste. But Dabangg has not qualified as a movie on caste even though it is about Chulbul Pandey, a Brahmin. This distinction is not unique to the Bollywood cinema but cuts across other regional cinemas too, in different languages. An example would be that of the first movie from Malayalam film Industry J. C. Daniel’s Vigathakumaran (1930). Though the movie is all about caste on the screen and in the selection of the cast, it still is not considered as a movie that addresses caste. There would be innumerable examples of this kind from different movie industries in India and outside India.

Many mainstream Indian movies hide the notion of caste by camouflaging it as class. There are instances where the lower castes are represented as merely poor and also instances where the upper caste are also represented as merely poor Brahmins or rich ones. Hence the plot is reduced to a fight between classes thereby burying the complexity of casteism prevalent in the society. At other times there are movies which explicitly mark their characters with their caste identities, yet the viewing public and the reviewers miss the caste markers because these caste markers have become normalised in the Indian viewer’s and reviewer’s psyche. Caste may be explicitly visible but it gets buried in the garb of the ‘normal’ narrative, i.e. the adventures of the upper-caste heroes.

It may be time for an anti-caste perspective in the review and critique of the movies. This volume of collected critical essays, co-edited by Joshil K. Abraham (G. B. Pant Engineering College) and Judith Misrahi-Barak (University Paul-Valery Montpellier 3, France), means to unravel the multiple layers of caste that feature directly and indirectly in movies.

Understanding the underlying use of caste from different angles is worth inquiring into as such analysis will lead us to unspoken and unseen territories in the discussion of caste and / in cinema. For instance, an abuse word which is essentially a caste slur or making fun of somebody by saying that they look / act like a lower caste / tribal are very common in films. Yet these are generally not analyzed as markers of caste. Hence these unseen territories where caste acts subtly in the society and culture need to be traced, marked and analysed. If we understand caste as not being limited to the representation of lower castes alone (in the positive or negative manner), then we will find that caste surreptitiously travels in almost every movie. It will be interesting to examine from up close the multiple modalities of the struggle against it.

Caste as it will be understood in the volume will not be restricted to Indian movies alone. We can see representations of caste in Hollywood movies and serialized shows too; an instance of this would be The Big Bang Theory (2007-2009) where there are multiple references to caste vis-a-vis the character of Raj Koothrappali. Further we can find caste being explicitly referred to in the Nepali TV series Dalan, or the US TV series The Lower Caste (2014) and in the recently released Netflix series Leila (2019). It will also be interesting to understand how caste can be the driving force of the relationship between different characters in other popular TV series even when caste is not explicitly referred to.

The inquiry on caste and / in film may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Caste as treated in different film genres such as comedy, romantic comedy, social drama, thriller, sci-fi, horror film, biopic, historical film, documentary, animation, short and medium-length films, TV and Web series… (for instance how caste is featured, how it is addressed, the purposes the film fulfills, the impact of the choice of genre in the treatment of caste)
  2. Caste in verbal abuses
  3. Caste in and out of translation as it is rendered invisible / inaudible for audiences from different states and languages in India and for international audiences (for instance when verbal abuses are not translated in the subtitles)
  4. Caste in family and gender relations (including gender diversity, punitive rape…)
  5. Caste and inter-caste relations as suggested / performed on screen
  6. Caste and politics at the micro and macro levels
  7. Caste and the body, dead and alive, suffering and victimized, at work and at leisure, in pleasure and in pain (flesh and blood, sexuality, erotica, sexual orientation, menstruation, reproductive rights…)
  8. Caste and body language
  9. Caste and mental health
  10. Caste and food
  11. Caste and religion(s)
  12. Caste and environmental issues
  13. Caste and games (board games, individual and collective sports, video games…)
  14. Caste and heritage, including the resistance against, and reformulation of, heritage
  15. Caste and the multiple forms of violence
  16. Caste and dignity
  17. Caste in the village, the city and the metropolis
  18. Caste and the Nation
  19. Caste outside the Nation and in international representations, particularly where the old and new Indian diasporas can be found (with a focus on the UK, the Americas including the Caribbean, Southern Africa and countries situated in the Indian Ocean)
  20. Caste and / in film: exploring new routes towards the emergence of a common ground in India.

The two editors encourage contributions that will be based on precise film analysis and will explore original and new approaches that could also include aspects pertaining to the production, post-production and the marketing of the films. Sound theoretical background will be expected but the contributors will bear in mind that the volume is intended for academic and general audiences to raise awareness about the topic and generate social, political, cultural and mental change.

Potentially interested contributors are invited to submit an abstract (200-300 words) with a short bio and contact details (100-200 words) in one Word file by Sept 15, 2019 to both Joshil K. Abraham and Judith Misrahi-Barak <>.

Acceptance of the preliminary short proposals will be announced by October 30. If the proposal is accepted, a style sheet will be sent and will have to be scrupulously followed.

Final chapters will be due by April 30, 2020 (between 30,000 and 33,000 characters, including spaces and footnotes, but excluding the list of Works Cited at the end).

There will then be double blind peer-reviewing. If the final chapter is accepted strict deadlines will apply for revising, if any is required, until the final submission to Routledge.


1 July 2019

We are very pleased to let you know that our Routledge volume has been published in its UK and US versions (the South Asian version with a cover by Harsh Kapoor will be released in August). Please see below for further details.

The volume emerged from the events organised during the AHRC-funded period and we are very proud to be able to share this important material with you.

Dalit Text: Aesthetics and Politics Re-imagined

Co-edited by Judith Misrahi-Barak, K. Satyanarayana, Nicole Thiara

238 pages, Routledge

Paperback ISBN 9780367218416

Hardback ISBN 9781138494572

E-book ISBN 9780367149031

This book, companion to the much-acclaimed Dalit Literatures in India, examines questions of aesthetics and literary representation in a wide range of Dalit literary texts. It looks at how Dalit literature, born from the struggle against social and political injustice, invokes the rich and complex legacy of oral, folk and performative traditions of marginalised voices. The essays and interviews systematically explore a range of literary forms, from autobiographies, memoirs and other testimonial narratives, to poems, novels or short stories, foregrounding the diversity of Dalit creation. Showcasing the interplay between the aesthetic and political for a genre of writing that has ‘change’ as its goal, the volume aims to make Dalit writing more accessible to a wider public, for the Dalit voices to be heard and understood. The volume also shows how the genre has revolutionised the concept of what literature is supposed to mean and define.

Effervescent first-person accounts, socially militant activism and sharp critiques of a little-explored literary terrain make this essential reading for scholars and researchers of social exclusion and discrimination studies, literature (especially comparative literature), translation studies, politics, human rights and culture studies.





  1. Introduction: Aesthetics or Politics? 

Judith Misrahi-Barak, K. Satyanarayana and Nicole Thiara


 Part I: Speaking out


  1. An Interview with Des Raj Kali, by Rajkumar Hans

Followed by: Des Raj Kali’s Shanti Parav: Experimental Punjabi Dalit Fiction

  1. An Interview with Manoranjan Byapari, by Sipra Mukherjee

Followed by: Manoranjan Byapari: Choosing to Write Anger

  1. An Interview with Kalyani Thakur Charal, by Jayati Gupta

Followed by: The Aesthetics of Dalit Literature: A Case Study

  1. An Interview of Cho. Dharman, by R. Azhagarasan and Arul

Followed by: Cho. Dharman: Caste and ‘Karisal’ Literature in Tamil Nadu, by Kiran Keshavamurthy 


Part II: Writing from within: Genre and Gender


  1. Author’s Notes or Revisions? The Politics of Form in P. Sivakami’s Two Novels

Kanak Yadav

  1. Of Subjecthood and Form: On Reading Two Dalit Short Stories from Gujarat, India

Santosh Dash

  1. Janu and Saleena Narrating Life: Subjects and Spaces

Carmel Christy

  1. Mother as fucked: Re-imagining Dalit Female Sexuality in Sahil Parmar’s Poetry

Gopika Jadeja

  1. A Pox Upon Your House – Exploring Caste and Gender in Tulsi Ram’s Murdahiya

Shivani Kapoor


Part III: Reading across


  1. Dalit Literature in Translation: A Symptomatic Reading of Sharankumar Limbale’s Akkarmashiin English Translation

Arun Prabha Mukherjee

  1. Translating Dalit Literature: Re-Drawing the Map of Cultural Politics

Maya Pandit-Narkar


Part IV: Looking through


  1. Notes on Questions of Dalit Art

Deeptha Achar

  1. (Re)imaging Caste in Graphic Novels: a study of A Gardener in the Wastelandand Bhimayana: Experiences of Untouchability

Ruchika Bhatia and Devika Mehra

  1. Dalits and the Spectacle of Victimhood in Telugu Cinema

Chandra Sekhar


17 May 2019

Neerav Patel, a pioneering Gujarati Dalit poet, passed away on 15 May, 2019. A bi-lingual poet, he wrote in English and Gujarati. During the last few days of his life he fought the cancer with the same indomitable spirit that imbues his poetry. From mid-December 2018, when the cancer did not let him sleep, he wrote a poem almost everyday and posted it on his social media page. A total of 68 poems. When he could not speak he kept a notebook and pen, communicating with his many visitors – friends and well-wishers – through notes.

Patel’s was a significant voice not just in Gujarati poetry but also in Indian poetry. His words captured the pain and experience of the material life of Dalit communities. He was one of the most widely read and translated of Gujarati poets. His poetry has been translated into several Indian languages as well as English and German. Though Dalit poetry remains marginalised in the Gujarati literary sphere, Neerav Patel was widely published and celebrated. In the past few years his poetry appeared in most of the major Gujarati magazines, literary and otherwise – Parab, Shabda Shrushti, Nireekshak, Naya Marg and Navneet Samarpan.

Deeply committed to the cause of Dalit literature, Patel was closely associated with the Dalit Panthers of Gujarat (inspired by the Dalit Panthers in Maharashtra, especially the poet Raja Dhale). He was one of the founding editors along with Dalpat Chauhan, Yogesh Dave and Pravin Gadhvi of the first Dalit literary magazine, Aakrosh (1978), published by the Dalit Panthers. His poem on the Jetalpur burning, when a young Dalit man named Shakrabhai Premabhai was burnt alive on the allegation of theft in the village of Jetalpur on 26 December, 1980, is a searing critique of caste hierarchies and a bold political statement. Patel calls it a ‘report poem’. Indeed, for Patel the subject matter of poetry could not be separated from the stark social and political realities of everyday life for Dalit communities.

As Deeptha Achar says, he was one of the first Dalit poets to make a conscious choice of writing in English. His first two collections of poetry, Burning at both ends and What did I do to be so black and blue were written in English and published by the Dalit Panthers of Gujarat in the 1980s. Very few Dalit writers even today choose to write in English, and when young Dalit poet Chandramohan began writing Dalit poetry in English, he found he had no mentors. He says, “I used to feel so orphaned that most of them wrote in their native tongues and didn’t possess enough command over English to read and critique poetry written in English and have a fruitful conversation on the nuances of a cultural text conceived in English. He was one of the few Dalit writers well-versed in English; this helped me in sustaining a conversation with him.” Always unflinching in his commitment to the cause of Dalit Literature, Patel advised Chandramohan to stay away from the media and limelight, read voraciously and hone his craft. This is a dictum he followed himself. He read widely and deeply. In his writing and conversation he would refer just as easily to Sarte as to Ambedkar, to Sisyphus as to Shambhuka, to Paul Robeson as to Baburao Bagul.

Patel’s commitment to Dalit literature is evident in his work with various Dalit literary organisations, publishing books and magazines, conducting workshops and other programmes. As an editor he was prolific. He edited several literary magazines in succession, even editing of the first anthologies of Gujarati Dalit poetry published by the Sahitya Akademi. Not only was he devoted to Dalit poetry, as an editor he sought to contextualise it, including interviews, sociological and other scholarly essays.

A bank officer for most of his working life, Patel was never at ease in the upper caste, middle class staidness it represented. In a preface to his collected poems, he says that the word poetry is ‘misleading’ (chetraamno). Misleading because for him poetry is not about the familiar, romantic tropes of traditional Gujarati poetry. It cannot be. His poetry does not please, or entertain. As he says, writing poetry gives him pain and he wishes that the reader not be just a reader but a ‘hamdard’ (someone who empathises). Neerav Patel has opened our world and made us all ‘hamdard’.

by Gopika Jadeja

2 February 2019

Please support the planned twitter storm on Monday, 4 February, 8pm-10pm IST, for those who are in jail in the Bhima Koregaon case, including our network member Shoma Sen. They have received little coverage, so please share the details of this event and participate if you are on Twitter: #FreeKoregaon9.

See also this article for relevant information:

21 January 2019

Please consider signing this petition in support of Prof. Anand Teltumbde:

See these articles for further information:


12 December 2018

The South Asian Diaspora Arts Archive’s project involves the digitisation of documents that they hold on Lakshmi Holmström. Some of these are now available online and include letters from Bama and the first few handwritten pages of her translation of Karukku.  Here is the link:

We are pleased to announce the Indian edition of Mudnakudu Chinnaswami’s poetry collection Before It Rains Again, published by Yoda press (

10 December 2018

Call for papers of the interdisciplinary and international conference ‘Caste, Gender and Race: A Politics of Hegemony’ on 21- 23 February 2019.

The conference is held at and organised by the Department of English, Faculty of Humanities, RTM Nagpur University, India.

It could be possible to assume that mankind, like any other biological species, has evolved from Homo Sapiens who then developed into different racial groups in the biosphere. But mankind need not be differentiated on the ground of superiority of the self over the Other in human civilization. Humankind should be treated as single species among other non-human species.  However, over the thousands of years humans have evolved into different races and developed a sense of superiority. This sense of superiority has divided entire mankind into the centre and the periphery supporting the dominance of the self as an outcome of the politics of hegemony. It is this politics of hegemony that invariably demoralizes the spirit of resistance in the Other with a view to sustaining and maintaining its own mechanism of everlasting supremacy in the human world.

Of course, the human world has witnessed some of the moments to respect the ‘equality of all’ so that the distinction and differentiation between the self and the Other is controlled to represent a better human world. But apart from such moments supporting the ‘equality of all’ the dominance of the self over the rest of the Other persists in the man-made phenomenon like forms of caste, gender and race. This distinction within and between various caste, gender and race engendered more fissures than sutures. Is it the politics of power that decides the nature of unequal human relationship? Is it because of such politics of hegemony that human association between the self   and the Other is fissured?  Literary perception never fails to voice such issues in the interest of human society.  We believe, it is a primary responsibility of the faculty in University Education to take a note of such issues in literary and social canon to shed some light on the fissures in human relations.  This three-day conference therefore intends to invite the attention of scholars in the faculty of humanities and social sciences to identify the logic behind the fissures in human relations to expose the politics of hegemony (being played) by the self against the Other in religious, legal, political, philosophical, economic and cultural spheres.

The organisers invite proposals of no more than 250 words for twenty-minute papers. Please also include a brief biographical sketch of up to 50 words. The deadline for submission of abstract is 31 December 2018.

Organizing Committee Members: Contact Professor DM Shende (91-99233 99672) at and Dr. SD Palwekar (91-98227 65894) (


4 December 2018

We share the sad, sad news that Aniket Jaaware has just passed. He died of a heart attack near his home in Delhi.

He had been associated with the Network for several years and his demise brings back all the memories of him in Pune, when he hosted and co-organised the conference there in 2016, and also in Montpellier when he had been invited to give a keynote at the conference in 2014, at a time when he was a Fellow at IIAS.

His demise is a huge loss for all of us. His new book Practicing Caste: On touching and Not Touching – Commonalities has just been released.

He certainly was a living proof that one can be a brilliant intellectual and writer, and be totally devoid of any arrogance, he was so soft-spoken and sweet in his relations with people. He is already sorely missed.


30 August 2018

It is with utter dismay and in a state of shock that we have been watching the recent developments on the political scene in India. Even if the crackdown on Dalits and Adivasis has been going on for many weeks now, months even, organising the arrests and raiding the homes of intellectuals and activists under the pretext of chasing Maoists and ‘urban Naxalites’ is definitely reaching an unprecedented new peak in the repression of dissent.

The feeling of helplessness on our side of the Indian Ocean is palpable but we want to express our radical condemnation of such actions, and our complete support to our friends who have been harassed, molested, humiliated and sometimes arrested. We have been recognizing people we know, friends, on the videos and we want to express our support and feelings of close solidarity.

It’s nowhere in the Western press, India is still being hailed as the biggest democracy in the world, and when there are headlines about India it’s about demonetisation. It is part of our responsibility to alert people here that there is much more to the Indian political and intellectual scene than what is being shown here.

In solidarity,

Judith and Nicole,-2018#page/14/2

A useful recap

7 April 2018

Nottingham Trent University: ‘Changing Wor(l)ds Through Dalit Literature’ on 13th April 2018

This inaugural event of the Changing Wor(l)ds network will be an interactive workshop bringing together a select group of industry professionals such as publishers, book sellers, cultural activists, writers, translators and scholars. Changing Wor(l)ds is intended to explore particular social issues and the impact that writing can have as a contribution to cultural activism. For this inaugural event, the focus will be on Dalit literature and its relationship to Dalit activism. We are delighted that Dalit feminist author Kalyani Thakur and professional translator Sipra Mukherjee will be joining us from Bengal specially for this event. This event is by invitation only.

Poetry Reading: Dalit Feminist Poet Kalyani Thakur at the Boots Library, 13th April

All are warmly invited to join us for poetry reading at the Boots library on Friday 13th April, 16:45-18:00, in BTS329. The event will showcase the work of Kalyani Thakur, who will be joining us along with professional translator Prof. Sipra Mukherjee. Kalyani’s poetry will be read in its original Bengali and in English translation. For those who don’t understand Bengali, this is a unique opportunity to experience the rhythm and evocative power of the poetry alongside a linguistic interpretation. The readings will be followed by time for questions and discussion.

Kalyani Thakur is a Dalit poet from West Bengal. She considers herself a Dalit activist and has written extensively about the humiliation faced by her community. She has published four books of poetry in Bengali, a collection of short stories and a collection of essays.

Sipra Mukherjee is a professional translator and Professor in the department of English, West Bengal State University. Her research interests are religion, caste and power. She has published with Brill, Oxford University Press, McGill Queen’s University Press, SAGE, Sahitya Akademi, Ravi Dayal, Routledge and Permanent Black. Sipra will also read from her translation of Manoranjan Byapari’s autobiography  Interrogating My Chandal Life, which was recently published by Sage/Samya.

Translating Activism: A Cross-Cultural Writing Workshop with Dalit Author Kalyani Thakur: Nottingham Contemporary 12:00-16:00, Saturday 14th April. The workshop is free but booking is essential as places are strictly limited. To book a place, please visit

See also

The events received coverage in The Times Higher Education , BBC Radio Nottingham and the Magazine LeftLion



22 September 2017

Network Publication: Special Issue on Dalit Literature in the Journal of Commonwealth Literature

We are very pleased to announce that all articles and the editorial of a special issue on Dalit literature in the Journal of Commonwealth Literature have appeared as online articles on the journal’s Online First site. The editorial can be accessed for free; the other pieces can only be accessed via institutional membership. This is the first special issue on Dalit literature in a major journal and all articles are based on papers and talks at the network events that we organised between 2014 and 2016. The journal is co-edited by Judith Misrahi-Barak, K. Satyanarayana and Nicole Thiara and we would like to thank all of the special issue’s contributors for their hard work.

Please help us publicise the special issue before its publication as a regular issue of the journal in 2019 by circulating this information widely.

List of Contents:
Nicole Thiara and Judith Misrahi-Barak
Editorial: Why Should We Read Dalit Literature?

K. Satyanarayana
The Political and Aesthetic Significance of Contemporary Dalit Literature

Laura Brueck
Narrating Dalit Womanhood and the Aesthetics of Autobiography

Shoma Sen
The Village and the City: Dalit Feminism in the Autobiographies of Baby Kamble and Urmila Pawar

Teresa Hubel
Tracking Obscenities: Dalit Women, Devadasis, and the Linguistically Sexual

Dolores Herrero:
Postmodernism and Politics in Meena Kandasamy’s The Gypsy Goddess

Malarvizhi Jayanth
Literary Criticism as a Critique of Caste: Ayothee Thass and the Tamil Buddhist Past

Judith Misrahi-Barak and Nicole Thiara
Interview with Director Jayan K. Cherian

Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy and Rowena Hill
Poet and Translator: A Dialogue between Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy and Rowena Hill 


26 July 2017

Dalit Studies conference at CSDS, Delhi on 22-24 January 2018:

Dalit studies: Human Dignity, Equality   and Democracy
The rise of Dalit studies has provided the necessary platform for a new set of scholarly enquiries in the social sciences and humanities. The Dalit Studies International conference (2008) was an attempt to bring together academics and intellectuals for a productive conversation on new research agendas. This initiative resulted in the publication of an edited volume Dalit Studies (2016). We plan to continue to explore caste inequality, human dignity, democracy and similar concerns  to further reflect on the possibilities and challenges of Dalit Studies in the proposed  conference.
Dalit Studies may be thought of as a new academic practice rooted in resistance to the dominant epistemologies. It has enabled academia to engage with the grounded knowledge creation by the Dalit communities. Innovative approaches have been devised to read the colonial and missionary archives and to analyse social memories, oral narratives, and cultural practices of the Dalit communities. Such novel research initiatives have resulted in a new set of studies that foreground Dalit subjects as active agents of social change and action.  As a location for the study of marginality,  Dalit Studies has enabled a sustained critical attention to the anti-caste social movements, religious traditions, literary and performative cultures and the everyday lives and practices of Dalit communities.  Another important aspect of Dalit studies is that it opened up the possibility of a global conversation on caste, race, and similar forms of inequality.
The last two decades have witnessed a serious engagement with Dalit struggles, experiences and perspectives. New histories of caste subalterns such as the new histories of Chamars in northern India or the slave castes of southern India particularly Kerala began to be explored. These studies have tried to develop substantial research questions that were either absent or only marginally dealt with in social science research in India. These studies offered new ways of reading slavery and untouchability by re-interpreting colonial and missionary archives. Given the limited historical records left by the Dalit people, the colonial and missionary records have proved valuable sources to recover the lives of the untouchables as human beings with a sense of their body and self. In contemporary India, the Dalit literary and cultural thought is constituted by a number of anthologies as well as analytical studies. The powerful Dalit narratives represented the subjective experience of caste oppression and everyday life. For example, the recent studies on Dalit literatures in Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi languages  have engaged with Dalit experience and aesthetics to demonstrate its valuable role in shaping a distinct Dalit identity. The explorations into the print and literary cultures have further revealed the gendered forms of caste and class domination. Caste is studied as sites of hegemony and power than simply reading it as an objective and homogeneous cultural system. Another set of studies documented and analyzed the significance of Dalit mobilizations, counter narratives of Dalit feminism, caste discrimination in labour market, inter-social group inequalities, subaltern religious movements and electoral success of Dalit parties. To sum up, questions of human dignity, citizenship, gender and caste inequalities, cultural identity, internal hierarchy of the lower castes, welfare, social justice, minority rights, political power and democratization are freshly posed and investigated in the field of Dalit Studies.
We propose to hold a three day international conference (22-24 January 2018) that would serve as a platform for intense and productive debates on the prospects of Dalit Studies. Given that the objective of this conference is to promote Dalit Studies and stimulate a constructive dialogue among scholars, we are keen to disseminate the new research through publications.  We intend to publish the conference proceedings.
We invite proposals from independent scholars, research students, and those working within and outside of formal academic institutions on any theme which would broadly fall under the rubric of Dalit Studies. A committee will select the abstracts and its decision is final.
The Conference organizers will provide economy class airfare and local hospitality to all participants from within India, and local hospitality to participants from abroad.
K. Satyanarayana, P. Sanal Mohan (Dalit Studies Collective)
 Aditya Nigam, Prathama Banerjee (CSDS)
Deadline for paper proposals:  September 15, 2017
Applications should include: (1) a two-page description of the research to be presented at the conference and its place within your larger work and goals (2) a two-page C.V.
Deadline for full papers:  December 10, 2017
Please email your proposals to


3 March 2017

We are very pleased to announce that Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy will launch his book of poetry Before It Rains Again at the British Library in Bengaluru on 10 March at 6pm. The event is hosted by the British Council and the trust Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy Academy of Buddhist Sciences and also inaugurates the trust.

There will be a live webcast of the book launch event available at See YouTube.

Judith and I have known Mudnakudy Chinnaswamy since he read his poetry in Kannada at our network’s conference on Dalit literature and translation at UEA in 2015 where Rowena Hill read the English versions of his poems that she had translated. This was one of the most memorable moments of this conference with many highlights. We were also lucky that Chinnaswamy read his poetry again in Nottingham both at Nottingham Trent University and at the public venue The Wire café in May 2016. These encounters introduced Chinnaswamy to the Liverpool-based publisher Erbacce Press, which published this wonderful collection of poetry. In order to purchase a copy, please go to: Negotiations with an Indian distributor are on their way.

This is the first publication which emerged from the events organised by our network and is a great example of the way in which it brings people together and we hope that you will support it.

See a review in The Hindu:

6 February 2017

As part of the Postcolonial Speakers Series of Nottingham Trent University’s Postcolonial Studies Centre, we present Gopika Jadeja, PhD candidate, National University of Singapore and King’s College, London:

You keep the cow’s tail: The Dalit Movement and Dalit Poetry in Gujarat

Around the world today governments and regimes are creating what Gyan Pandey calls a ‘monolingual order’, which does not recognise any other idea of nation and sovereignty except the one it ascribes to. This alienates and denies participation in the nation to marginalised communities excluding them from cultural citizenship leading to contestations of identity within the nation. I examine this through a study of the literary sphere in the western Indian state of Gujarat. I suggest that interactions in the literary sphere reveal, and become a site for, contestations of identity and of idea of the nation.

I present dalit literature in Gujarat as a challenge to the creation of monolithic and exclusive Gujarati asmita (identity and pride) suggesting a plurality of identities and what it means to be ‘Gujarati’. I achieve this by tracing the historical trajectory of modern Gujarati literature as a backdrop in literary and social history against which Dalit poetry in Gujarat emerged, while focusing also on the dalit movement in Gujarat.

Besides poetic texts and archival material from the dalit movement, I draw from the slogans (eg. ‘You keep the cow’s tail, give us our land’) and speeches from recent dalit protests in Gujarat. Combining literary analysis and historiography with the study of a socio-political movement, I bring to the fore an alternative literary history that plays a role in the assertion of a plurality of identities challenging the monolingual order of the region and by extension the nation, in particular the nation of ‘Hindutva’.

Wednesday 8th February 2017, 1-2pm, MAE101, Clifton Campus, Nottingham Trent University, UK.

7 November 2016

ESRC Festival of Social Science 2016

Voices of Resistance: Caste, Exclusion and Race
(Benzie Building, Manchester School of Art, 9 November 2016 at 4pm)
You are warmly invited to this FREE event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2016
hosted by Dr Annapurna Waughray (Manchester Met) and the University of Manchester
Keynote: Professor David Mosse (Professor of Social Anthropology, University of London)
Guest speakers and panellists:
Jai Anbu, Dalit author reading from his novel Betel Leaves  
Revd. Raj Bharat Patta (Honorary Chaplain at St. Peter’s Church and Chaplaincy and PhD candidate in Dalit Liberation Theology at University of Manchester)
Dr Sushrut Jadhav, Senior Lecturer in Cross-cultural Psychiatry at University College London and Consultant Psychiatrist, Camden Homeless Outreach Services & Islington Mental Health Rehabilitation Services.
Dr Nicole Thiara, Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University specialising in postcolonial literature and organiser of the AHRC-funded research network: ‘Writing, Analysing, Translating Dalit Literature’.
Burjor Avari, Honorary Research fellow in the Department of History at Manchester Metropolitan University.
The event will highlight and explore diverse responses to caste discrimination by drawing on different perspectives from law, religion, literature and community activism. It places caste within the broader context of how attitudes towards migrant groups and communities have changed over time and how racism, discrimination and exclusion have been expressed and resisted. We hope to attract a broad audience and to provide a space for people who are interested in listening to and discussing a range of different perspectives.
In particular, we hope that young people will attend and contribute their views on this important issue
For further information on guest speakers and to book a place please follow the link below:
To find out more about the ESRC Festival and a full listing of events please visit:

22 September 2016

BASAS Annual Conference 2017: Call for Papers

19 – 21 April 2017, University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University

The British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS) will hold its annual conference from 1:30 pm Wednesday, 19 April, to 12:30 pm Friday, 21 April 2017, at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University. The conference is hosted by Nottingham University’s Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies (IAPS) and Nottingham Trent University’s Postcolonial Studies Centre. The keynote speaker is Urvashi Butalia, sponsored by IAPS.

We are now accepting panel and paper submissions for the 2017 conference. This year there is no specific theme for the conference – we invite proposals for both panels and independent papers from all humanities, arts, and social science disciplines, covering research on the breadth of South Asia and its diaspora. As always we welcome bold, innovative, and interdisciplinary approaches.

Submission Guidelines:

Please submit your panel and paper proposals to the conference organisers at by the dates shown below.

Panel proposals (150-200 word abstract). Panels will last for 90 minutes, and it is advisable that proposals allow sufficient time for the presentation of papers as well as discussion. 

Independent papers (100-150 word abstract).

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 30 November 2016

Please provide full contact details (mailing and emailing addresses) for your paper and/or for each member of your panel.

Note on panel proposals: Panel proposals are to be accompanied by individual paper abstracts for each of the proposed panel members (100-150 words). The panel organiser(s) should also arrange for a chair (who can be a panellist).

Please note: Incomplete panel proposals will not be accepted. Panel organisers are expected to have confirmed speakers and chair prior to submitting. The conference organisers may seek to add additional individual papers to accepted papers, in discussion with panel organisers.

Funding: There will be a limited number of bursaries to the value of £50 available to students and unwaged participants. Those who wish to be considered for these bursaries should include a covering note in support of their request, detailing any additional institutional support for conference participation for which they may be eligible. This must be submitted by the deadline of 30 November 2016.

Registration will open in January 2017.

Registration deadline: 15 March 2017

Registration fee (up to 15 March 2017): £150 waged (teaching and research staff on salaries); £90 unwaged (students, unemployed, pensioners, academics on hourly paid or sessional contracts). Please note that the delegate rate includes a conference dinner on 20 April, one lunch (on 20 April), a drinks reception, and tea and coffee between sessions.

Advanced registration is strongly encouraged to ensure a place at the conference. Late registrations, after the 15 March deadline, will attract an additional charge, and places may not be guaranteed.

You must be a BASAS member in order to register for the conference. To become a member, visit the BASAS website.

BASAS paper prize for graduate students: An award of £250 will be made for the best paper presented at the Annual Conference.  Entries should be no longer than 7000 words and submitted no later than 15 March 2017 to the conference organisers at  A panel of judges comprising the conference organisers and council members will make the final decision based on the paper and the presentation.  The winning paper may be considered for publication in one of BASAS’s associated journals, Contemporary South Asia or South Asian Studies.

Visas: Delegates requiring visas must register to attend the conference before a visa letter can be issued from the conference organisers.  If you require a visa please contact including a copy of your registration receipt, which should feature your name and address.  Please also note your Nationality and your Passport Number.  A personalised PDF Visa letter will be emailed to you promptly.

Conference organisers: 

Professor Katharine Adeney, Dr Onni Gust, Dr Kathryn Lum, Dr Diego Maiorano, Dr Humaira Saeed, Dr Nicole Thiara

Contact e-mail: 

20 September 2016

The great Dalit Leader and Writer Bojja Tharakam sadly passed away:

12 July 2016

We would like to announce the launch of our network’s YouTube channel DALIT VOICE AND VISION.

This channel was initially set up to cover the events, conferences and activities of the network. In the future, we aim to focus on recording interviews, digital autobiographies and performances by Dalit writers, artists and people with a story to tell. So, this channel will establish a new branch of the network.

The Executive Board consists of Dr Nicole Thiara, lecturer in English at Nottingham Trent University, UK, and Dr Judith Misrahi-Barak, Associate Professor in English at Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier, France.  Production Co-ordinator and Chief Editor is Prof. Vinod Verma, University of Delhi, India. The editor for Europe is the independent editor Zacharie Barak.

Without the input, creativity and hard work of Prof. Vinod Verma, this channel would not exist. So we would like to thank Vinod and also our editor in Europe, Zacharie.

If you would like to get involved or suggest material for uploading, please contact Nicole ( and Vinod (

Please note that not all sessions at the conferences were recorded and not all recordings were of a technical standard that made them suitable for uploading. We apologise to those whose sessions were not recorded.

Please register on the Youtube channel to be kept updated of any new video that will be posted.

14 June 2016

Lakshmi Holmstrӧm passed away on 6 May 2016 and we would like to express our deep sadness and extend our condolences to her family and friends. Lakshmi translated poetry and prose, mainly from Tamil into English, and her excellent translations of Bama’s work have been of huge significance in the field of Dalit literary studies. She spoke at the first conference the network organised at Nottingham Trent University in June 2014 and had been a great supporter of the network from the beginning. In many ways, she was greatly influential in helping to conceive of the network and as a colleague and friend she will be terribly missed.

10 May 2016

We have now started a publications page as part of this website, which lists relevant publications to the study of Dalit literature. The publications and films listed here have been kindly compiled by Judith Misrahi-Barak originally. If you would like us to add further titles and films, please send us the references following the referencing system used on the webpage.

 The renowned Kannada writer and poet Mudnakudu Chinnaswamy was invited by the network to read from his poetry in Nottingham on 12 May 2016 at Wired, 42 Pelham St, Nottingham NG1 2EG. He will also work with students and members of staff at Nottingham Trent University for two weeks. Please contact us, if you would like to get in touch with him during that period.

31 March 2016

We are launching this website dedicated to the study of Dalit literature at a time when the violence against Dalit students, academic staff and activists is highly visible in the international media.This research network seeks to provide a platform for researchers of Dalit literature within and outside of academia and strengthen links between Dalit writers and their publishers with their international audiences. If you would like to get involved, please contact Nicole Thiara and Judith Misrahi-Barak.