The month of April commemorated in India as the Dalit History Month since 2015 is intrinsically associated with the celebration of the life and work of B R Ambedkar, an eminent Indian scholar, a Dalit intellectual and social reformer. Black History Month celebrated in the United States in February inspired the concept of the initiative. The central idea has been to wrest Dalit history away from traditional academic institutions that have historically silenced and pushed the Dalit community to the periphery and to celebrate an alternative narrative through non-traditional historical avenues, including oral histories, folklore, songs, and plays.
The Antonym decided to celebrate and delve deeper into Dalit Souls, Art and Literature over May and June. As part of that exercise, we put together a panel of poets, scholars, and translators to locate Dalit art and literature among the larger global protest literature. Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi, Dr. Jayashree Kamble, Angelo Geter, and Prashant Ingole joined us on May 8th, for a stimulating, fierce, and straight from the heart discussion.
Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi specializes in marginal studies, postcolonial discourse and new poetry. He has written several books and articles on Dalit writers and activists from India including, Surviving in My World: Growing up Dalit in Bengal (2015). He edits an international journal for poetry, Teesta.
Dr. Jayashree Kamble specializes in romance narratives in film, fiction, and television. Her first book, Making Meaning in Popular Romance Fiction: An Epistemology, was published in 2014. She is a professor of English at the City University of New York’s LaGuardia Community College.
Angelo Geter is an award-winning poet & spoken word who currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Rock Hill, South Carolina. He is a 2020 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, a National Poetry Slam champion, and Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam finalist.
Prashant Ingole is a doctoral candidate in Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Gandhinagar. His research work focuses on Dalit Studies, Cultural Studies and Interdisciplinarity.
The discussion was structured around following questions:
What is protest art and literature’s relationship with mainstream art and literature?
Is contemporary Dalit literature different from the older Dalit literature?
Is aesthetics being redefined by the creative protest community?
How closely do the visual, the literary, and the political dimensions intertwine and combine?
How does one draw a parallel between Black and Dalit Art and Literature?
Can protest literature move beyond protest and what would that look like?
The discussion dealt with several questions framed as above, but with great inputs from the diverse panel even went beyond that and unearthed eye opening perspectives.
Here is the full recording of the discussion.