Towards Dalit Literature: A study of Joothan by Om Prakash Valmiky

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Manjusha Mandaokar & Dr. Shilpi Bhattacharya


Dalit literature has been a major struggle against caste-based oppression and discrimination. It not only negotiates a collective identity for Dalits but also introduces variability in negotiations for the same. It identifies the ruptures and the transitional processes in Valmiki’s life. These processes of transitions include identity redefinition, knowledge and skills; and meaning making. These processes were facilitated by varied resources: social, cognitive and symbolic. Valmiki’s relocation to a city led to the change in his frame of activity. Thereafter, at each stage of his life, his social circle widened, his cognitive skills got enhanced and symbolic resources were used at progressively higher level of reflexivity. The major social resources were found to be the people with whom he came in contact after relocating to the city. The cognitive resources were found to be Hindi mainstream literature, Marathi Dalit literature, and theatrical devices. The symbolic resources were the works of Phule, Ambedkar. Accessibility and utilization of all these resources eased the reconfiguration of the semiotic prism reifying his identity as a Hindi Dalit writer enabling him transform the caste-based experiences on the plane of fiction challenging the power hierarchy embedded in social reality.


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