This volume explores cultural repression in India and ways in which it is overcome. It studies the burgeoning Dalit politics in North India and shows how Dalit women heroes (viranganas) of the 1857 Rebellion have emerged as symbols of Dalit assertion in Uttar Pradesh and are being used by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to build the image of its leader, Mayawati.
It demonstrates how myths and memories of the role of Dalits in India's freedom struggle are employed for constructing identity and reconstructed for political mobilization.
Key feature include:
- some of the tales used to develop political consciousness at the grass-roots level;
- stories picked up from among the people themselves: reinterpreted; packaged; and disseminated orally or via pamphlets;
- how gods, heroes and other cultural resources of each caste are converted into political capital by giving them a visual image through calendars, statues, posters and memorials;
- how the BSP creates and recreates historical material to expand its electoral base.
Based on field studies and secondary information, the author outlines the politics of dissent which uses historical and cultural resources as identity markers in political mobilization. This book is invaluable for students of politics, sociology and history and all those engaged in Dalit studies.
Badri Narayan is a social historian and cultural anthropologist and currently lecturer of social and cultural anthropology at the G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad. His interests lie in popular culture, social and anthropological history, Dalit and subaltern issues and the relationship between power and culture. He has been a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla (1998-99). The Indian Council of Social Science Research (1995) and the University Grants Commission, New Delhi (1989-93). He has also been Visiting Fellow at the International Institute of Asian Studies, University of Leiden, The Netherlands (2002) and HGIS Fellow at the Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam (2001). He was a recipient of the Fulbright Senior Fellowship (2004-5) and the Smuts Fellowship, University of Cambridge (2005-6). Besides having written a number of articles both in English and in Hindi, he has authored Documenting Dissent: Contesting Fables, Contested Memories and Dalit Political Discourse (2001) and edited (with A.R. Misra) Multiple Marginalities: An Anthology of Identified Dalit Wrintings (2004).