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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Conference on Dalit Experience and the Question of Marginality

Department of English, University of Delhi
Annual Conference 2012
The Dalit Experience and the Question of 
16-18 February 2012
Call for Papers

Recent times have seen a rapid growth of interest in marginality in literary and cultural studies. Marginal cultures  and identities are by definition the ‘other’ of hegemonic cultural formations; their place and plight are always determined by and peripheral to the dominant culture. Typically, Dalits are framed as socially 
frail, politically powerless and economically backward. However, in India, while the nature of traditional caste society does make Dalits a marginalized people, the discourse of marginality needs to be taken in conjunction with the fact that Dalits (along with Bahujans) constitute a majority work force.  Further, the decisive alterations to the public sphere made by an assertion of Dalit political consciousness must be recognized. 

Against this background the Department of English, Delhi University is organizing a conference on “The Dalit Experience and the Question of Marginality” from February 16  – 18, 2012. The conference aims to probe the relation between the public sphere consolidation of Dalit identity and the continued devaluation of Dalit labour. At what point, can these different coordinates of the Dalit experiences be mobilized to constitute a counterhegemonic citizenship? What are the various theorizations of caste reality as it pertains to questions of symbolic and not-so-symbolic acts of violence? What are the limits and possibilities of framing the Dalit question as an identity question? How do we critically examine the institutional practice of Dalit studies especially within the cultural rubric of experience and affect? A core part of our conference intends to open up the question of modernity as imagined by Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, given that 2012 will see the celebration of his 120th birth anniversary. In so far as the idea of the annihilation of caste remains central to Ambedkar, the embrace of modernity cannot simply be seen in terms of reconciliation. It was envisioned very much as a transformative project. 

Papers can be from any discipline. They should address but not be limited to the 
following topics:
• Theorizing Dalitness: rigorous location in caste versus more open-ended category of the downtrodden.
• Myths of origin: invented or historical proofs of indigeneity which trace Dalit ancestry to the broken men, nagas, rakshashas, adi-dravida, namashudras, Buddhists etc. and the expression of this genealogy in 
contemporary politics.
• Questions of faith: differentiations within a broad Hindu  habitus, relationship with Hindutva and conversion to Buddhism or other faiths.
• Dalit Citizenship: the articulation of Dalit citizenship in relation to the issue of affirmative action as well as human rights. 
• Using the Media: representation of Dalits in the upper caste media and Dalit intervention in the different branches of mass media—print, electronic, publishing, theatre and films.
• Globalisation and Dalit entrepreneurship: the role of the emergent Dalit diaspora; the indigenous Dalit bourgeoisie and the political class’s complicity with neoliberal policies on the one hand and Dalit (and tribal) 
displacement and resistance on the other.
• Dalit and gender question: specificities of Dalit patriarchy.
• Dalit aesthetics and the Dalit intellectual: the question of Dalit aesthetics and the forms of Dalit expression. 

Please send your abstract (300 words) and a brief bionote (150 
words) to the following email or postal address by 9 December 2011:
Dr. Raj Kumar
Department of English
Delhi University, Delhi – 110007
Conference Committee:
Dr. Raj Kumar (Director), Dr. Hany Babu, 
Dr. Tapan Basu, Dr. Nandini Chandra

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