ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

The Birth of the Dalit Protagonist

Born as a reaction to caste violence, the figure of the Dalit protagonist has come full circle—no longer hateful, it is creative and begets life.

In 1877, Friedrich Engels wrote, Each mental image of the world system is, and remains in actual fact, limited, objectively by the historical conditions and subjectively by the physical and mental constitution of its originator. Close to 150 years later, this still holds true for Indian literature, where the caste system and Brahminical culture can be understood as being the objective and subjective conditions.

Whether in literature or cinema, we find that Dalit characters have almost never been centre stage, even in stories about caste oppression. Whether a Dalit character is portrayed as a victim or a fighter, is a matter of politics and the sociopolitical reality of the storyteller. In Brahminical culture, which prohibits the literary aspirations of certain castes, the caste of the storyteller is bound to play a role in their story. When a marginalised protagonists character is developed and shaped by a privileged upper-caste writer, from a position of oppressive power and with no understanding of the Dalit struggle, the very meaning of protagonist becomes infertile, flawed, and bogus.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Or

To gain instant access to this article (download).


Pay
INR 59

(Readers in India)


Pay
$ 6

(Readers outside India)

Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

Support Us

Your Support will ensure EPW’s financial viability and sustainability.

The EPW produces independent and public-spirited scholarship and analyses of contemporary affairs every week. EPW is one of the few publications that keep alive the spirit of intellectual inquiry in the Indian media.

Often described as a publication with a “social conscience,” EPW has never shied away from taking strong editorial positions. Our publication is free from political pressure, or commercial interests. Our editorial independence is our pride.

We rely on your support to continue the endeavour of highlighting the challenges faced by the disadvantaged, writings from the margins, and scholarship on the most pertinent issues that concern contemporary Indian society.

Every contribution is valuable for our future.