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‘English-ing’ Anti-caste Literature in Maharashtra

Maharashtra is foremost in establishing an anti-caste publishing culture in India, starting off with the vernacular and extending to publishing in English.

Maharashtra, arguably, is the birthland of Dalit literature in India. Its beginnings in the real sense can be traced back to the 1960s, but it is only after the 1970s that it came to be recognised as a body of literature, namely Dalit literature or Ambedkarite literature. There are two significant reasons for this. First, the number of Dalit writers has grown rapidly in recent decades. Second, predominantly upper-caste publishing houses, vernacular as well as English, became interested in publishing Dalit writers’ narratives, especially autobiographies, after recognising their economic value.

The founding members of the Dalit Panther movement were also writers and gained popularity among new and old readership in India. Dalit writers founded their independent publishing
forums to publish their writings. Hundreds of them rose and then vanished, unable to make themselves economically viable because of the unconventional nature of the literature. Publications like Ratna-Mitra Prakashan (Nagpur), Ashok Prakashan (Nagpur), Takshashila Prakashan (Mumbai), and Sambodhi Prakashan (Mumbai) did not survive, but prominent among the ones that survived despite all odds are Sugava Prakashan, Samata Prakashan and Kausalya Prakashan, to name a few.

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Updated On : 16th Sep, 2019

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