Performativity in Dalit Literature: Identification, Disidentification and Re-identification in Contemporary Dalit Personal Narratives

Simon, Surya (2021) Performativity in Dalit Literature: Identification, Disidentification and Re-identification in Contemporary Dalit Personal Narratives. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

Dalit identity is one of the core aspects explored and expressed in Dalit literature. Some Dalit writers attempt to understand and define Dalit identity while some “propagate their view on Dalit identity” (Shah 215). Dalit writers endeavour to do away with discriminatory identities and labels imposed on them such as ‘untouchable’ and ‘outcaste’. Dalit activism aims at Dalit emancipation from a historically and socially oppressive system while simultaneously searching for new empowered identities. Dalits chose the term ‘Dalit’, which was adopted to protest against unjust identifications enforced on them. Thus, there is a process of shedding away of identifications and attempts to find new self-determined identity or identities, and Dalit identity is therefore a category in transformation. This study attempts to explore Dalit identity from a new perspective using a performative theory of caste to theorise Dalit identity as a process of identification, disidentification, and re-identification. This study tries to understand the role of caste and Dalit identity from the perspective of performance studies by analysing select Dalit literature. Since Dalit personal narratives (autobiographical narratives) comprise a substantial part of Dalit literature, and in order to demonstrate how they exemplify, explain and themselves perform the processes of Dalit identity formation, I engage in close reading of the following Dalit personal narratives: Bama’s Karukku ([1992] 2000), and P. Sivakami’s The Grip of Change ([1989] 2006) and Author’s Notes: Gowri ([1997] 2006). Since the three texts analysed are translations, this thesis argues that the process of identity formation encompasses both, the composition of Dalit texts as well as the translation of the texts; and hence interviews with several translators of Dalit texts are also used to understand the challenges and possibilities of literary advocacy and resistance for Dalits.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2022 14:15
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2022 14:15
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/85385
DOI:

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