Transformation from aesthetics to activism: An analysis of select Dalit women personal narratives

Surya Simon

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Dalit resistance gained prominence in postcolonial India through Dalit literature, with Dalit life writing emerging as a significant way to address ongoing problems and issues faced by Dalit communities. Dalit personal narratives are not mere reflections into the past but lived experiences with a timely and current sociological base. Dalit narratives have become a platform for social and political activism against various hegemonic discourses that otherwise exclude the experiences of the Dalit population. Moreover, Dalit women suffer many layers of oppression and violence, and there is a necessity to understand the intersectionality of Dalit women’s realities. Hence this article analyses select personal narratives of two Dalit women writers: P. Sivakami’s The Grip of Change ([1989] 2006) and ₹Author’s Notes: Gowri’ ([1999] 2006); and Bama’s Karukku ([1992] 2005). The ₹Author’s Notes: Gowri’ is a reflection on The Grip of Change and the two narratives are collectively referred to as The Grip of Change. This article attempts to understand the extent to which Dalit personal narratives transform from aesthetics to activism. This article analyses the narrative technique and form used in the narratives and explores how the narratives expose embodied issues to foster activism in and through the content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-122
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Voice of Dalit
Issue number1
Early online date31 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • Dalit
  • activism
  • advocacy
  • aesthetics
  • autobiography
  • biography
  • caste
  • class
  • collective
  • discrimination
  • testimonio
  • trauma

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