Uncovering injustice: towards a Dalit feminist politics in Bangalore
This research is interested in unpacking the injustice that dalit groups, men and women, identify as structuring their lives, as well as the strategies deployed to resist, disrupt and subvert the violence. It is also interested in elucidating the tensions in accounting for caste relations, as well as a gendered conception of dalit relations in Bangalore. The dalit women question has received increasing scholarly as well as political attention in the last couple of decades. However, there is very little literature that seeks to locate the conditions of dalit women’s lives in the context of urban spaces.\ud \ud Understanding gendered caste relations in the space of the city has been no easy process. This is not only because of the conceptual and historical disjunction between caste and class, but also because of the disjunction between caste and conceptions of the space of the city. The over-determination of the centrality of ‘the village’ in the literature on caste does not easily allow for a conception of caste relations in the city. Moreover, the space of the city as a space of freedom in the dalit imagination makes it difficult to locate a critical conception of urban spaces for a dalit politics. In relation to a gendered dalit politics, the need for an internal critique of the patriarchy of dalit politics whilst over-determined, has not produced a robust critique of intra-caste relations. This is also because in demarcating the specific conditions of dalit women’s lives, a gendered dalit politics tends to get caught up in a ‘politics of difference’.\ud \ud Based on primary research with three dalit groups in the city of Bangalore and secondary material, this thesis locates the politics around the naming of identity and the ways in which ‘dalit’ identity has been avowed, disavowed, contested and sometimes not confronted at all, by the groups, and what this means for a dalit politics as well as a dalit feminist politics in Bangalore. It also analyses the politics of naming the injustice of untouchability and the strategies deployed by the respondents to contend with the violence. It provides a gendered account of untouchability and an analysis of untouchability in relation to the city.