Programmheft 2014 - page 135

Akademie Greifswald
Arbeitsgruppe 8
Margins of India: Writing the Nation and Reading
‘New Subaltern’
Dr. PavanMalreddy
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik,
Technische Universität Chemnitz
Studierende der Anglistik/Amerikanistik, Anthropologie, Verglei-
chenden Literaturwissenschaft, Kommunikationswissenschaft,
Soziologie und Kulturwissenschaften
The workshop draws inspiration from select texts of Dalit and Dalitbahujan narratives
(autobiography, fiction, and theory). These include Mulk Raj Anand’s “Untouchable”
(1935), Kancha Ilaiah’s “Why I am Not a Hindu” (1998) and Om Prakash Valmiki’s “Joo-
than: A Dalit’s Life” (1997). The workshop contextualizes the ‘new subalternity’ featured
in these narratives as one fundamentally distinguished from the postcolonial ‘subalterni-
ty’ (as popularized by Gayatri Spivak’s essay “Can the Subaltern Speak?”) which relegates
representational authority to the ethical ventriloquism of the academic intellectual under
the auspices that the language of the subaltern cannot possibly be deciphered by the for-
mer. Extending this view, through three primary texts selected for discussion, the work-
shop sets out to explore what happens to normative academic protocols when subalterns,
or rather ‘new subalterns’, write in a language that denies the labors of ventriloquism to
the academic intellectual.
In particular, the workshop aims to familiarize students with the notion of ‘new subal-
ternity’ as the locus of collective politics in the absence of any academic and intellectual
genealogical precedents. Dalit and Dalitbahjan literature, in that sense, is cultivated on an
epistemic turf that lacks the privileges of both the fraternal and filial association of the glo-
balized academy. As a result, Dalit and Dalitbahujan literary figures turn to their ethno-
national community (caste, clan, tribal) and its cultural collectivity as a site (and source)
of knowledge – be it empirical, ethnographic, or literary – which finds expression in the
quasi-autobiographical form of their literary work. The workshop seeks to explore how
such new literary impulses not only advance the narratives of collective nationhood from
India’s margins, but also allow new insights into the problems of ethnographic and auto-
biographical representation (in Anthropology, Comparative Literature, and Cultural Stu-
dies), and structural analysis of agency (in Sociology, Rural and Agrarian Studies).
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