Drumming out oppression, or drumming it in? Identity, culture and contention in dalit politics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the past decade, there have been an increasing number of academic articles on the dalit drum or parai. For the most part, they note the processes by which this once humiliating caste service has been re-symbolised as an art form and has become central to dalit struggles for liberation. In such articles, there is an easy assumption that the parai is an art that dalits can take pride in. In this article, I problematise such claims by pointing to dissenting voices and campaigns by people who claim that the celebration of the drum merely perpetuates degradation. This raises questions such as who speaks for a community, whether a symbol of oppression can truly become an icon of resistance and how marginalised communities can construct positive identities when their cultural memories and practices are inescapably associated with their subordination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalContributions to indian Sociology
Volume50
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2016

Keywords

  • dalit
  • caste
  • stigma
  • identity
  • drumming
  • Madurai
  • Tamil Nadu

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