Revalorising paraiyar ethnic identity through literary writings

Indrani Ramachandran, Ruzy Suliza Hashim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present genre of Indian literary writings on untouchability encompasses fictional or semi-autobiographical narratives produced by writers who are mostly untouchables themselves, and the more widely-accepted of such writings are those that solely focus on the oppression of the untouchable community. In the process of privileging oppression, these writers often fail to provide a balanced portrayal of the community‟s ethnic characteristics. The key concerns of this paper, therefore, are to analyse the motivation of untouchable writers who choose to stereotype their people as “the victimized other”, and to bring to the forefront works of writers who have made conscious efforts to infuse aspects of ethnicity, culture and rituals into their writings. This paper analyses two short stories on untouchability written in Tamil and translated into English, The Binding Vow (2009/2012) by Imayam, and Eardrum (2000/2012) by Azhakiya Periyavan, with the aim of investigating the writers‟ stand on the ethnic and ritualistic culture of their people. The findings of this study reveal that the writers‟ privileging of oppression over ethnic issues reflects a strong influence of Dalit ideologies, and that despite such a pattern, there are those who continue to employ culture and rituals as tools to empower their people. The study also implies that the ethnicity and rituals of the untouchable community deserve equal attention as the portrayal of oppression in Indian literary writings on untouchability, and that by privileging oppression, writers are misleading their people into abandoning and rejecting their true ethnic and cultural identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-253
Number of pages11
JournalGEMA Online Journal of Language Studies
Volume14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2014

Fingerprint

ethnic identity
writer
oppression
religious behavior
ethnicity
Tamil
Ethnic Identity
Writer
Literary Writing
cultural identity
Ideologies
community
stereotype
genre
Oppression
narrative
present

Keywords

  • Dalit
  • Paraiyar
  • Pollution
  • Rituals
  • Untouchability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Revalorising paraiyar ethnic identity through literary writings. / Ramachandran, Indrani; Hashim, Ruzy Suliza.

In: GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3, 01.09.2014, p. 243-253.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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