Intersecting Dalit and Cultural Studies: De-brahmanising the Disciplinary Space

About the speaker: Prashant Ingole is a doctoral student working on Dalit representation and ‘lived’ experience. His research work revolves around graphic narratives, social media, Hindi cinema, and Dalit life narratives. His research interests include literary studies, comparative cultural studies, popular culture, and visual and verbal contexts. He is specifically interested in marginal identities and ground realities with a focus on modern Dalit expressions.

Abstract: This paper is an attempt to synthesis the discipline of Dalit and Cultural studies as a step towards proposing the discipline of Dalit Cultural Studies. By invoking the different claims of dominant epistemologies re-articulated by dalits intellectuals at different historic moments and locating the cultural past of Dalit humiliation, this paper examines the anti-caste discourse and the cultural resistance of Dalits from the colonial and postcolonial times which continues to take shape in different forms. Intersecting Dalit and Cultural studies the paper argues—that the distinction between the Brahmin and the non-Brahmin aesthetics leads to challenge the power and knowledge relation through the ‘politics of difference’. The non-brahmin aesthetic decenters the cultural production and circulation of the grand narratives, by de-brahmanising the established disciplinary space by bringing the discourse of the experience of caste and humiliation into the mainstream academia. When available mainstream approaches in humanities and social sciences in India would not grasp the intensity of their pain and anguish; therefore, in order to go beyond mainstream sympathetic view, intersecting Dalit and cultural studies can help in de-Brahmanizing the disciplinary space through which the sociology of dalit life could be understood.