Monday, 7 October 2013

Department of English
Jamia Millia Islamia

International Conference
Dalit Literature & Historiography: Resistance and Reconstruction

19th - 21st December 2013

Today it is widely accepted that history is no longer an undisputed, uncontested terrain. Every history - history of the world or of a nation or of a people or an individual - can be seen and narrated from various perspectives. Accordingly, there have been various Schools of Historiography - Hegelian School, French School, Nationalist, Marxist and Subaltern - reflecting divergent focus and concerns of the historians. In a situation where strict historical methodology is set aside to allow facts, events and documents drawn from all sources to work together and reconstruct the history of the people the significance of literature can hardly be missed. Insights from literature enriches our understanding not only of history but of  politics and economics as well and new horizons of thinking emerge. Not only the Nation but also its ‘fragments’ find their utterance through Narration. Both Marxist and Subaltern Schools profess to work towards the goal of writing ‘history from below’, and offer a much needed corrective to the ‘nationalist’ school which is seen as ‘elitist’. However, despite its explicit corrective agenda and preoccupation with the binaries of nation and fragments, men and women, elites and peasants, urban and rural, haves and have-nots, majority and minority even the Subaltern School seems to have missed the position of the Dalits in India. They seem to have missed the fact that in the recent past Dalit literature in India has played a crucial role to rewrite the ‘history from below.’ Influenced by Periyar-Ambedkar Movement Dalit writers across the length and breadth of the country have not only been consciously writing against the hegemonic structure of the society but also creating parallel ‘histories’ in their writings. While writers like Om Prakash Balmiki, Sharan Kumar Limbale, Bama, Sivakami, Jayant Parmar, Neerav Patel et al. compelled national and international attention through their ‘personal narratives,’ many others like Basudev Sunani have taken up the onerous task of writing the cultural history of their people. Even on the face of adverse criticism they are silently documenting the oral histories and mythologies of their people.
In such a scenario, it has become extremely important at this juncture to engage with Dalit Literature and Dalit Historiography in different languages. Questions on ideological positions, methodology adopted, objectives envisioned, similarity with/difference from other literatures/historiographies will be raised and debated with utmost rigour and, possibly, we will come up with some new formulations and insights.

The proposed Conference aims at providing an interdisciplinary platform for writers, poets, researchers, academics and non-academics to deliberate upon the trends, issues and methodologies in Dalit Literature and Dalit Historiography in the true spirit of exchanging ideas and mapping new horizons.

The seminar will have plenaries, individual presentations as well as panels.

Themes/Sub-themes of the Conference:

  1. Revisiting the Subaltern: Dalit Literature and its Discontents
  2. Dalit Literature: Trends and Issues
  3. Dalit Literature & Dalit Historiography
  4. Dalit Historiography: Scope and Challenges
  5. Dalit Historiography vs Marxist Historiography
  6. Dalit Historiography vs Subaltern Historiography
  7. Dalit History: Oral vs Written
  8. Dalit History: Resistance and Reconstruction
  9. Dalit Literature: Politics of Translation
  10. Dalit, Afro-American & Aboriginal Identity: Convergence & Comparative Perspectives

Please send your abstracts (about 500 words) bearing your name and institutional affiliation, if any, to by November 20, 2013.

You will be intimated by November 22, 2013 about the selection of your abstract, in which case you will have to submit the complete paper by December 15, 2013.

Prof M Asaduddin                                                      Mr Saroj K Mahananda
Conference Chair                                                       Conference Coordinator