Dalit Studies

Dalit Studies

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: Published: April 2016

Asian Studies > South Asia, History > World History, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

The contributors to this major intervention into Indian historiography trace the strategies through which Dalits have been marginalized as well as the ways Dalit intellectuals and leaders have shaped emancipatory politics in modern India. Moving beyond the anticolonialism/nationalism binary that dominates the study of India, the contributors assess the benefits of colonial modernity and place humiliation, dignity, and spatial exclusion at the center of Indian historiography. Several essays discuss the ways Dalits used the colonial courts and legislature to gain minority rights in the early twentieth century, while others highlight Dalit activism in social and religious spheres. The contributors also examine the struggle of contemporary middle-class Dalits to reconcile their caste and class, intercaste tensions among Sikhs, and the efforts by Dalit writers to challenge dominant constructions of secular and class-based citizenship while emphasizing the ongoing destructiveness of caste identity. In recovering the long history of Dalit struggles against caste violence, exclusion, and discrimination, Dalit Studies outlines a new agenda for the study of India, enabling a significant reconsideration of many of the Indian academy's core assumptions.

Contributors: D. Shyam Babu, Laura Brueck, Sambaiah Gundimeda, Gopal Guru, Rajkumar Hans, Chinnaiah Jangam, Surinder Jodhka, P. Sanal Mohan, Ramnarayan Rawat, K. Satyanarayana


"Dalit Studies raises and tries to answer imperative questions and also demonstrates areas open to further research. It therefore provides an interesting read for specialists and nonspecialists alike." — Amal Shahid, LSE Review of Books

"The editors successfully locate and contextualise the historical agendas and agencies of Dalit Studies across time and space and have also aptly documented and explicated the sources and milieus of the origin, emergence and proliferation of Dalit Studies. Moreover, they clearly explain how the ideological as well as epistemological paradigms that prevailed in India for a long time stood in the way as obstacles that hindered more complex realisation of Dalit discourses and practices." — Sheeju N.V., South Asia Research

“The authors are aware that they represent the transition in the field of Dalit studies where Dalits initially were mere objects of study, but now with research contributions such as the present volume, they are also the subjects who are contributing to the study of Dalit lives…. The editors have done a commendable job in bringing together the diverse strands of scholarship for a Western audience.”

— Shradda Kumbhojkar, H-Asia, H-Net Reviews

"This anthology, the work mostly of Dalit and other like-minded scholars, will doubtless inspire students and scholars of caste, history, Dalits, literary studies, and the politics of India as well as comparative historians of marginality and difference." — Shailaja Paik, Social History

"This is a genuinely fresh and instructive volume that will interest professional students of Indian society and politics, as well as those with a special concentration on Dalit issues. . . . As an edited work, this is not a smooth summary of the Dalit situation today or historically. What it does, successfully, is open up perspectives and developments from a Dalit rather than outsiders’ stance." — Oliver Mendelsohn, Canadian Journal of History

"Dalit Studies presents exciting new scholarship that makes for a powerful introduction to the Dalit struggle against injustices in modern India. Arguing for a contemporary global history that places practices of exclusion based on caste or color at its center, this volume invokes insightful comparisons between Dalit battles and African American campaigns for civil rights."  — Barbara D. Savage, University of Pennsylvania

"This book provides a series of empirically rich and provocative essays on Dalit history, politics, and religion, mostly on subject matters about which little is known. The introduction is a tour de force, calling into question dominant interpretations of South Asian society and history, and offering compelling new counterperspectives. This volume will be invaluable to scholars and students interested in Dalit studies and is a must-read for anyone involved in teaching or doing research in modern South Asia."  — Douglas E. Haynes, author of Small Town Capitalism in Western India


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ramnarayan S. Rawat is Associate Professor of History at the University of Delaware and the author of Reconsidering Untouchability: Chamars and Dalit History in North India
K. Satyanarayana is Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at EFL University, Hyderabad, and the coeditor of two collections of Dalit writing from South India: From those Stubs, Steel Nibs Are Sprouting and No Alphabet in Sight.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction. Dalit Studies: New Perspectives on Indian History and Society / Ramnarayan S. Rawat and K. Satyanarayana  1

1. The Indian Nation in Its Egalitarian Conception / Gopul Guru  31

Part I. Probing the Historical

2. Colonial Archive versus Colonial Sociology: Writing Dalit History / Ramnarayan S. Rawat  53

3. Social Space, Civil Society, and Dalit Agency in Twentieth-Century Kerala / P. Sanal Mohan  74

4.  Dilemmas of Dalit Agendas: Political Subjugation and Self-Emancipation in Telugu Country, 1910-50 / Chinnaiah Jangam  104

5. Making Sense of Dalit Sikh History / Raj Kumar Hans  131

Part II. Probiing the Present

6. The Dalit Reconfiguration of Modernity: Citizens and Castes in the Telugu Public Sphere / K. Satyanarayana  155

7. Questions of Representation in Dalit Critical Discourse: Premchand and Dalit Feminism / Laura Brueck  180

8. Social Justice and the Question of Categorization of Scheduled Caste Reservations: The Dandora Debate in Andhra Pradesh / Sambaiah Gundimeda  202

9. Caste and Class among the Dalits / D. Shyam Babu  233

10. From Zaat to Qaum: Fluid Contours of the Ravi Dasi Indentity in Punjab / Surinder S. Jodhka  248

Bibliography  271

Contributors  293

Index  295
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc Maldives & S. Asia, incl. Myanmar

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6132-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6113-8
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