Accepted Paper:

The other modernity and forgotten tradition: resurfacing of Dalit cultural heritage in contemporary India  


Ronki Ram (Leiden University, The Netherlands)

Paper short abstract:

Cultural heritage is fast emerging as a politically contested site where the hitherto marginalised and socially excluded Dalit communities are learning to deploy it as a viable agency in their identity formation process.

Paper long abstract:

Dalits in contemporary India are closely engaged in building their distinct civil society and exclusive centres of Dalit cultural heritage at the local as well as national levels. It seems that the ongoing diverse Dalit cultural heritage project finely coalesces tradition and modernity. Tradition ceases to be a value of the past and the modernity loses its aura in the fast acclimatising present in the images of yesterdays. Consequently, this has led to a sort of perennial conflict between the hitherto dominant communities and the ex-untouchables who find in their resurfacing cultural heritage a hope of reclaiming their long-overdue share in the local/national stuructures of power.

Panel P08
Dalit communities in India and diaspora: agency and activism, research and representation