‘The Question of (In) Difference: Dalit women in contemporary Indian society’
Prof. Manuela Ciotti,
Aarhus University, Denmark.
This talk is the last of a trilogy of interventions on Dalit women’s difference and representation. Following McNay’s call for transcending the negative paradigm of subject formation within feminist theory and for the need for a more generative framework pointing towards a full (and more active) account of agency in a post-traditional society (2003), the speaker shows that positing Dalit caste status as a synonym of marginalization, exploitation and violence as the driving narrative for Dalit women’s subject formation and agency does not always lead to their comprehensive exploration and account. Drawing upon extensive research on Dalit communities in north India, the talk discusses the dilemma between the need to go beyond an undifferentiated Dalit women universe and an undifferentiated analytical framework in order to engender plural representations and the resilience of untouchability. The speaker argues that this dilemma informs the emergence of alternative analytics of difference and the role of Dalit women subjects in the conceptualization of Indian society.
Prof. Manuela Ciotti received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the London School of Economics (LSE). She is currently Associate Professor of Global Studies at Aarhus University, Denmark, and ‘Framing the Global’ Fellow (2011–15) at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. Prof. Ciotti has published several essays in journals such as Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Modern Asian Studies, Feminist Review, The Journal of Asian Studies, and Third World Quarterly among others, and is the author of the book entitled Retro-Modern India. Forging the Low-caste Self (2010).