The Flaming Feet and Other Essays
The Dalit Movement in India
D. R. Nagaraj
Edited by Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi, and with a Foreword by Ashis Nandy
5.5 x 8.5 inches, 282pp. March 2011
ISBN : 9781906497804
Rs 0.00 (HB)
In this volume of sixteen essays, D. R. Nagaraj, the foremost non-Brahmin intellectual to emerge from India’s non-English-speaking world, presents his vision of the Indian caste system in relation to Dalit politics—the Dalit being a self-designation for many groups in the lower castes of India. Nagaraj argues that the Dalit movement rejected the traditional Hindu world and thus dismissed untouchable pasts entirely; but he believes rebels too require cultural memory. Their emotions of bewilderment, rage, and resentment can only be transcended via a politics of affirmation.
He theorizes the caste system as a mosaic of disputes about dignity, religiosity, and entitlement. Examining moments of caste defiance, he argues for a politics of cultural affirmation and creates a new cultural identity for Dalits. More significantly, he argues against self-pity and rage in artistic imagination, and for recreating the banished worlds of gods and goddesses.
Nagaraj’s importance lies in consolidating and advancing some of the ideas of India’s leading Dalit thinker and icon, B. R. Ambedkar. He suggests an inclusivist framework to build an alliance of all the oppressed communities of India.
D. R. Nagaraj (1954–98), recognized as a profound commentator and cultural critic, was the director of the Centre for Translation at the National Academy of Letters, Bangalore. He is the author of The Flaming Feet and Other Essays.