Cast(e)ing Gender in Dalit Literature

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Cast(e)ing Gender in Dalit Literature
An international AHRC funded conference hosted by the English Department

at Savitribai Phule Pune University, India

14-15 December 2015
List of bios

Atul Anand currently works as an Assistant Professor of Mass Media at Don Bosco College, Goa. He has done a Master’s degree in Media and Cultural Studies from School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. His Master’s degree dissertation, titled as ‘Representation and Hindi Newspapers: A study in Bihar and Jharkhand’, looks at the issue of news and its relations with representation of different social groups in Hindi newspapers. Atul Anand has presented two conference papers, ‘The Politics of Representation: Whose Media Is It Anyway?’ in December 2014 at Frames of Reference, Mumbai and ‘Hindutva Culture: Threat for subaltern and control over newsrooms’ in July, 2014 at IAMCR conference, Hyderabad. He is co-director of three documentary films, ‘Natraj Bhojpuriya’ (2015), ‘Caste on the Menu Card’ (2014), and ‘Human for Sale’ (2012) which deal with the issues of migrant workers, beef-ban and human trafficking respectively.

Neha Arora is working as Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Central University of Rajasthan. She has obtained her doctorate in Dalit Literature from University of Lucknow. She has co-edited Major Voices in New Literatures in English and Mahesh Dattani: Themes, Techniques and Issues and has published papers on varied themes, ranging from Dalit Literature to African and to Indian English Literature, in books and also in reputed national and international journals. She is also Associate Editor of The Expression: An International Bi-Monthly Multidisciplinary e-Journal and member of Editorial Boards of many academic bodies such as Indian Journal of Comparative Literature and Translation Studies and Alchemist Journal of Humanties.

Rashmi Attri is Associate Professor, English, AMU, India, where she has been working for the last fifteen years. Her M.Phil and Ph.D. were on W.B. Yeats’ plays. She also holds PGCTE (Post Graduate certificate in the teaching of English) from EFLU, Hyderabad, India. Her areas of interest include African Literature in English, Indian English writing, Irish literature, Afro-American literature, Modern British Drama, ELT, Indian Aesthetics, Film studies etc. Presently she is working on Dalit Writings of India and Ecocriticism. She teaches Theories in second language learning methodologies, Communicative English, Indian and African fiction in English, Modern British Drama, and English for Business. She has presented papers at national and international conferences, and in the US, and has published papers in several journals.

Drishadwati Bargi, having completed a Master's degree in English Literature from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, joined The School Of Women's Studies as an M.Phil student. She submitted a dissertation entitled ‘The Dalit Woman's Body: Representation, Subject Formation and Resistance’ grounding her argument on Bengali novels. She has presented papers at national conferences held at TISS Mumbai, NEHU, Shillong and one international conference at York University, Toronto. Her papers dealt with the question of the representation of dalit men in Bollywood, the possibility of an autonomous dalit identity in West Bengal, the role of memory in dalit women's lives and the question of methodology in contemporary dalit studies. In the future, she wants to look at two aspects of caste and dalit identity: one is the relationship between Caste and Spatiality and another is the relationship between Caste and Culture.

Chandrani Chatterjee is Assistant Professor, Department of English, Savitribai Phule Pune University, India. She teaches English at the Department of English, SP Pune University. She has a B.A. and M.A. from the Department of English, Jadavpur University and a Ph.D. from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT, Bombay. She was awarded the Fulbright-Nehru fellowship in 2012 to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA. Some of her research interests include Translation Studies, Comparative Literature, Gender Studies, Renaissance and Shakespeare Studies and History of the Book.

Jayan K. Cherian, born in Kerala, India, graduated with honors from Hunter College, BA in Film and Creative Writing and an MFA from The City College of New York in filmmaking. Papilio Buddha (2013) is his debut feature film and he made several experimental documentaries and narrative shorts such as: Shape of the Shapeless (2010), Love in the Time of Foreclosure (2009), Hidden Things (2009), Soul of Solomon (2008), Capturing the Signs of God (2008), Holy Mass (2007), Tree of Life (2007), Simulacra the Reality of the Unreal (2007), The Inner Silence of the Tumult (2007), Hid-entity (2007), and Tandava the Dance of Dissolution (2006). His films were screened at Berlin International Film Festival, BFI London Lesbian Gay Film Festival, Montreal World Film festival and other major festivals around the globe. Won several awards such as: Kerala State Film Special Jury Award for best direction, Kerala Film critics Association Award for Best debut Director. Silver Conch award at Mumbai International Documentary Film (MIFF), Silver Jury prize in San Francisco Shorts, Directors’ Choice Award in Black Maria Film Festival and Honorable Mentions at Athens International Film and Video Festival. He has also published four award-winning volumes of poetry.

Asis De is Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature in the Department of English, Mahishadal Raj College (Govt. Sponsored Post Grad College), Mahishadal, West Bengal, India. His M. Phil dissertation was on the search for home and identity in V.S. Naipaul’s fiction. His PhD dissertation (recently submitted in Jadavpur University, Kolkata) concentrates on the study of Identity negotiation in newer/ diasporic cultural spaces with particular reference to the fiction of Amitav Ghosh and Ben Okri. In a number of publications (Orient Blackswan and Atlantic mainly) and conference presentations in India and in Europe (Belgium, Germany and England), he has worked on the issue of cultural identity and transnationalism in Asian, Caribbean and African fictional narratives. Presently his research interest also includes Indian Dalit and Tribal literatures in translation. He also teaches Anglophone Postcolonial Literatures, Cultural Studies and Diasporic Literatures in two Universities in India as Guest Faculty. He is a member of some eminent research organizations like Postcolonial Studies Association (UK), GAPS (Germany), EACLALS and IACLALS.

Epsita Halder is Assistant Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. She works on the Karbala narrative traditions in relation to Muslim modernity and nationhood in late 19th and early 20th century Bengal as her PhD thesis. She was awarded the Charles-Wallace Trust Fellowship in 2011. She has worked on the Muharram traditions of West Bengal with the Art Research Documentation Grant of India Foundation for the Art, Bangalore in 2011-2013. Her research interests include Islam in Bengal, Performance Studies, History of Art, Cultural Studies and History of the Book.

Gopika Jadeja is a graduate research student with the South Asian Studies Programme at the National University of Singapore. Gopika edits and publishes a print journal and a series of pamphlets for Five Issues, a performance-publishing project. Gopika’s translations of poetry as well as her poetry have been published in various journals and magazines. A recipient of the Charles Wallace Scholarship for Creative Writing, she has published a chapbook of poems in collaboration with Visthar-Bangalore. She is currently working on a project of English translations of poetry from Gujarat and a collection of her (for lack of a better phrase) own poetry.

Aniket Jaaware has been teaching English at the Savitribai Phule Pune University since 1993. His publications include 'Simplifications: An Introduction to Structuralism and Poststructuralism; (Orient Blackswan 2009 reprint), 'Neon Fish in Dark Water (MapinLit 2007), an edition of Hamlet for Pearson Longman), and some translations from English and Marathi.

Prof. Ashalata Kamble, an activist and well known writer, works as a lecturer in Pendharkar College, Mumbai. She has several books to her credit like Bahinabainchi Kavitta: Ek Aakalan (second edition), Samarth Striyancha Itihas, Yashodharechi Lek (Poetry), Aamchi Aai, Pravas Aamha Doghancha. She has won several awards for her work like the Dr. Ambedkar International award from Canada, Prabhakar Padhye critics award from Konkan Sahitya Parishad, Maharashtra, Wamandada Kardak award from Darpan Sanskrutik Manch, Kankavli, Savitribai Phule-Fatima Sheikh award, Mahila Kasturi Bhushan Award from Dainik Pudhari. She has delivered lectures on feminism as well as Savitribai Phule, Bahinabai Choudhari and Therigatha. The National Blind Association (NAB) translated the books into audio recordings - Bhinabainchi kavita: ek aakalan and Samarth Striyancha Itihas. Some poems from Yashodhrechi Lek have been included for the study of M.A.Marathi, Mumbai University.

Shivani Kapoor is a research scholar, pursuing her PhD at the Center for Political Studies (CPS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India. Her research examines the relationship of caste and untouchability with the leather industry in Uttar Pradesh, India, primarily through a sensory and phenomenological focus. Her M.Phil was on the question of self and untouchability in Hindi Dalit autobiographical narratives. Her larger interest areas lie at the intersections of sensory history and anthropology, caste, gender, marginality, writing the self and questions of social justice. She has previously taught Political Science at Lady Shri Ram College (LSR), University of Delhi.

Kiran Keshavamurthy finished his PhD on gender and sexuality in modern Tamil literature from the department of South and Southeast Asian Studies at University of California, Berkeley. He is currently Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. His interests include gender and sexuality studies, caste studies and modern Indian literature. His publications include, ‘Tanjai Prakash: Between Desire and Politics’ (forthcoming, December 2015, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla), ‘Gender, Sexuality and Caste in Tamil Literature’ (Vidayasagar University Journal, March 2015).

Chhaya Koregaonkar is an eminent poetess in Marathi literature, hails from Mumbai and was born in 1958 in a Dalit family in Maharashtra. After completing graduation, she worked in a government bank for the last 30 years. Chhaya had started writing poetry when she was thirteen and has two poetry books published namely “Aakaant priya maazaa” (I love my outcry) and “Ek awakaash maazahi” (my space) in Marathi. Woman’s emotional world, her day to day struggle for living and woman’s sexploitation within family and society are the main concerns of her poetry. She is known as a feminist poetess in the literary movement. She also likes to write stories and critical material on all types of literature in Marathi. Chhaya is also active in the social movement particularly relating to the dalit as well as the women’s movement for the last 25 years. She considers Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar as her idol, teacher, path finder and his teachings had a great impact on her. She advocates for gender equality and woman-power through her writings.

Lissa Lincoln is Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Comparative Literature at the American University of Paris and Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Society Program. Her research interests can be divided into three interrelated valences: the work and thought of Albert Camus, the interdisciplinary field of law and literature, and the problems articulated in contemporary ‘global’ feminism and feminist theory. Her current research projects include an examination of law’s rapport with literature through the philosophical frameworks of French contemporary philosophers Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, particularly as played out in the interrelationship between judgment, power and morality.

Mukta Mahajan is presently working as Professor in the Dept. of English, School of Language Studies and Research Centre, North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon (M.S.) India. Her research area is Comparative Study of Literature and Translation Studies. She has three books to her credit- Ernest Hemingway: An Author Study and Prose Style. Her third book Globalization, Indian Spiritualism and Saint Poets is the result of her MRP sanctioned by UGC, New Delhi. She is a professional translator. She has translated and written scripts for AIR, Jalgaon. She has completed one translation for Sahitya Akademi, Mumbai. She has presented her papers in International conferences at USA. U.K. Romania, Malaysia, Italy, Austria, Sri Lanka and also in India.

Padmini Mongia teaches literature in English at Franklin and Marshall College, English Department, Franklin & Marshall College, Pennsylvania, USA. She has edited Contemporary Postcolonial Theory for Arnold (and OUP) and has published numerous articles on Conrad as well as on contemporary Indian Writing in English.  Currently, she is working on popular 'pulp' fiction written in English from India.

Nalini Pai is presently Assistant Professor at St Joseph’s College of Arts and Science, Bangalore, India. Her teaching focuses on British literature both before as well as after 1900. Her research interests include Indian writing in English, Cultural Studies as well as, more recently, Indian Literatures in Translation. She has published papers covering areas such as English Language Teaching, Dalit literature and Translation and Film stars and Politics. Her interests are special education, creative writing and film studies.

Maya Pandit Narkar is a professor at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad and combines three disciplines in her academic and cultural work spread over 35 years. A Translation Studies scholar, she worked on the nineteenth century Marathi translations for her doctoral thesis and has produced more than 16 major works of translation from Marathi in to English and some from English into Marathi. As a Feminist Studies scholar, she has published extensively on women’s writing and produced a documentary film Voices from the Margins on Marathi dalit women writers. She was a Charles Wallace scholar at University of East Anglia. As an activist in women’s movement and experimental and street theatre, she worked extensively on issues of women, caste and class oppression. As an ELT scholar she has published many books on communicative English and teacher development programmes. Her publications include Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Adventures with Grammar apart from many research papers in books and journals. She has participated in many international conferences and workshops in several countries.

Atulkumar Parmar works as an Assistant Professor of English with Mahadev Desai Gramseva Mahavidyalaya, Gujarat Vidyapith, Randheja since September 2006. He has completed Doctoral research from M.S. University of Baroda. The area of his research is Gujarati Dalit Writing: Questions of Narrative and Translation. His three books have been published; two of them are translations of Gujarati Dalit writing. They are: Poet's Voice (translation of Praveen Gadhvi's Poems) and Gujarati Dalit Short Stories (translation of Chandraben Shrimali's short stories). He has also edited a book on Dalit writing in India. Its title is Dalit Writing in India: A Critical Evaluation. Besides he has presented 14 research papers and published 12 articles in international and national journals. His areas of interest are Dalit Writing and Translation Studies.

Pradnya Daya Pawar is a leading Dalit-feminist poet. She is one of the most important names in Marathi poetry today. She has published five books of poems so far. Besides poems, she also has a two-act play, a collection of short stories and a book of column-writing to her credit. The style, the form, the content of her poetry is unique, individualized without being individualistic in the Bourgeois-Brahmanical sense. Her terrain does not allow her to be indifferent to the exploitation, oppression and deprivation that her class-caste-gender has to undergo in the uniquely caste-ridden, patriarchal Indian society. Her poetry is a statement of her comprehensive experience. She comes from a family that performed tamasha – an open, no-bar, no-taboo folk form. Ditto her poetry! It defies even the framework of traditional defiance. In her very first collection entitled ‘Antastha’ she tried to bring Dalit poetry out of its caste-centric limitations. Her poetry is personal and hence political. It can’t be apolitical. Her poetry is that of a Dalit Panther, a she-panther for whom the jungle with its wild abandon is also poetry.

Urmila Pawar was born in the small village in Ratnagiri as the youngest child of a Dalit family. She learned early in life the meaning of her subordination as a woman and as a Dalit. A prolific writer, her ten books published include three Short Story Collections; selected stories were translated into English as Mother Wit by Prof. Veena Deo of Hamline University USA. She has won many prestigious prizes for her sensitive exploration of the lives of Dalit women in India. Her Autobiography Aydaan is a part of Syllabus of the University of Columbia (USA) from 2009 and was translated into English, Hindi and Kannada. Recently AAYDAN has been adapted for a Marathi play by legendry Marathi play director Sushma Deshpande and is also in the process of being adapted in Hindi and English as well.

“AAYDAN” is still continues to touch the heart of all lovers of Marathi literature.
Anupama Rao, Associate Professor, History, is the author of The Caste Question (University of California Press, 2009). She has also written extensively on the themes of colonialism, humanitarianism, and non-Western trajectories of gender and sexuality. She is currently working the political thought of B. R. Ambedkar, and on a project entitled Dalit Bombay, which examines the relationship between caste, political culture, and everyday life in colonial and postcolonial Bombay.

Her work has been supported by grants from the ACLS; the American Institute for Indian Studies; the Mellon Foundation; the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the SSRC. She was a Fellow-in-Residence at the National Humanities Center from 2008-09, and a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford during 2010-11. In 2014-2015, she will be a Fellow at REWORK (Humboldt University, Berlin). She is Senior Editor, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Dr. Sambaiah is presently Assistant Professor and Head, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at JNTUA college of Engineering Pulivendula, YSR Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. He has several years of experience and has been teaching courses on technical and communicative English at various levels. He did his M.Phil and Ph.D from Sri Venkateswara University on Indian Drama and DTE from EFLU. He is an author, speaker, trainer, translator and student counsellor; he has developed and conducted training seminars, and helped hundreds of the students to be placed in reputed MNCs. He published several articles on soft skills, personality development and literature. He worked in Misratha University, Libya and visited Nepal and Bhutan as Student counsellor for career guidance. He is a frequent seminar participant. His interests are research, soft skills, campus recruitment training, personality development and progressive literature.
C. Chandra Sekhar is a Ph.D scholar in the Department of Cultural Studies at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. He has an M.Phil degree in Cultural Studies from the same university. For his M.Phil thesis he worked on Dalit Caste Panchayats in Andhra Pradesh under the supervision of Prof. Maya Pandit Narkar. At present he is doing his research under the supervision of Prof. K.Satyanarayana, on Dalits Conversion into Christianity in Colonial Rayalaseema. Rayalaseema is one of the backward regions in Andhra Pradesh. He presented a paper in a national seminar, titled Representation of Prostitutes and Prostitution in Recent Telugu Cinema and presented a paper in an international conference, with the title of Representation of Conversion in Telugu Literature. His areas of interest include Dalit Literature, Feminism, Films study, and literary theory. He is keen to learn new languages be they Indian or Foreign.
Shoma Sen is currently teaching at the Department of English, Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj University, Nagpur, India as an Associate Professor. Her areas of interest are Feminism, Gender Studies and Human Rights. She has published research papers and spoken at various platforms on related issues. She was invited as the Keynote speaker by Asia Pacific Research Network for an International Seminar, “Women Resisting Crisis and War” in the Philippines in 2010. She read a paper on “Women, Development and Displacement at a National Seminar organized by the Forum for Inclusive Growth, New Delhi, October 10, 2010, on “Subaltern Women’s Writing” at International Conference in Mumbai in October 2012 and on “Neo-Imperialism in Selected essays of Arundhati Roy” at an International conference at EFL-U, Hyderabad in Jan 2013. Shoma has also participated in civil society investigations on violations of human rights and in people’s tribunals. She has edited a magazine in English and Hindi related to the women’s movement in India.

Bijaya Kumar Sethi is currently a Doctoral Research Scholar in English at IIT Indore, Madhya Pradesh, India, with a special interest in marginalized literatures such as Dalit Literature and Literatures from the Northeast India. Dalit Aesthetics is the focus of the doctoral thesis. Dalit literature as a new literary genre has been frequently rejected by the mainstream literary critics. According to the mainstream literary critics, Dalit literature is historical, sociological and does not have literary beauty, because it deals only with the caste exploitation. The endeavor in this doctoral thesis will be to explore the aesthetic elements in Dalit literature which are different from the aesthetic norms of traditional established aesthetic norms. The study goes through a systematic analysis of select Dalit autobiographical narratives to expore and establish the aesthetic aspects of Dalit literature.

Shobha Padmakar Shinde is currently the Director, School of Language Studies and Research Centre, North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon. With a rich experience of teaching and research extending over a period of thirty years, she has won a national award for teaching excellence in English. She has published more than thirty research articles in national and international conferences in India and abroad. She has recently completed a major research project of the UGC on Indian Feminism and was actively involved in three Ford Foundation Project. Her interests range from Gender Studies, Critical Theories, Dalit Literature. She holds additional charge as the Head, Women’s Studies Centre at North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon. She has published four books related to theories and literary studies.

Vinod Verma is Associate Professor, Department of English, Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi, India. He was born in 1962 in a Chhippa hand-block printing community, was a school drop-out when 10 years old and a child-labourer for seven years. He passionately pursued studies when 17 years old, starting with alphabets of English and earning an M.Phil. in English Literature. He has been associated with MAC, University of Delhi, English Department, since 2001 as Associate Professor. Between 1992 and 2000 he ran an NGO for socially and economically under-privileged children’s education. Co-editor of DU textbooks The Individual & Society and Living Literatures, he has researched Dalit writings and Bhakti/Mukti Literature in Indian vernaculars for the last ten years and shared it in conferences held in Indian and UK universities. His published works include critical papers on Dalit Literature, Kabir, poetry, drawings, book cover designs, digital paintings, photographs and films. He also conducts workshops on Dalit Arts, Visual Design, Film Appreciation, Performing Arts and Photography & Film-Making.

Kanak Yadav is a research scholar at the Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. She has completed her M.Phil. dissertation titled, ‘Serious Men and The Gypsy Goddess: How Newness Enters the Dalit Discourse’ in 2015. She graduated from Kirorimal College, University of Delhi, India and completed her Masters in English from the Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. Her areas of interest are Dalit Literature, Indian Writing in English, Translation Theory and Practice, and Postcolonial Studies.

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