Questions of honour: Dalit women activists and the rumour mill in Tamil Nadu

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Abstract

Recent caste conflicts have revolved around discourses of honour, caste pride and shame. Although Dalit movements have been at the receiving end of the violence and have condemned the casteism underpinning it, they operate within a society in which questions of honour are highly significant. Dalit women activists are trapped in an unenviable position within the twin structures of caste and patriarchy, both of which speak to debates about group boundaries and honour. Taking the recent violence as its starting point, this paper draws on interviews with and observations of Dalit women in the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (Liberation Panther Party) in Tamil Nadu to chart how discourses of honour both facilitate and constrain their capacity to act. For all the party's emphasis on women's rights, women activists face an uphill struggle to secure recognition, respect and responsiveness both within the party as well as wider society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-269
JournalContemporary South Asia
Volume25
Issue number3
Early online date10 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • caste
  • honour
  • dalit
  • gender
  • Tamil Nadu

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