ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Baby Kamble to Bama

Dalit Women Write Differently

By writing in a “Dalit style of language,” taking recourse to oral tradition, the Dalit woman elides and invents words, breaks the syntactic structure to express the Dalit world, thereby countering the hegemony of the upper-caste/ upper-class language which seeks to impose order and obedience. 

I had the honour to audit a series of lectures delivered by Udaya Kumar on life writings which helped me immensely in developing the ideas and idioms in this article. I am indeed grateful to him.
I am immensely thankful to the anonymous referee for the appreciation, critical comments and suggestions which helped considerably in enriching the article.


The advent of modern education brought about by colonial modernity could not reach the “lower castes” and “untouchable” communities in a fundamental way. Nonetheless, a constant struggle was going on to extend educational facilities to these under-privileged groups, particularly by “lower caste” social revolutionaries like Savitribai Phule and Jotirao Phule1 who “founded schools for girls and untouchables” in 1849 and 1851 (Omvedt 2008: 160–61).

As modern education entered the lives of the underprivileged groups, it began empowering them to assess the world they encountered in their daily struggle for survival and also enabled them to visualise a different new world and translate it into written words.

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