Revalorising paraiyar ethnic identity through literary writings

Indrani Ramachandran, and Ruzy Suliza Hashim, (2014) Revalorising paraiyar ethnic identity through literary writings. GEMA: Online Journal of Language Studies, 14 (3). pp. 243-253. ISSN 1675-8021


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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.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:paraiyar; dalit; untouchability; rituals; pollution
Journal:GEMA ; Online Journal of Language Studies
ID Code:7776
Deposited By: ms aida -
Deposited On:28 Oct 2014 12:24
Last Modified:14 Dec 2016 06:45

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