From Social Reform to Social Protest

Nandi Bhatia

in Performing Women/Performing Womanhood

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780198066934
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080076 | DOI:
From Social Reform to Social Protest

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This chapter explores the issue of dalit womanhood when the reappearance of caste and gender issues during the 1970s and 1980s inspired protests that reached a new critical phase through groups such as Theatre Union, Jagori, Aavhaan Natya Manch, and Janam. Many of these groups addressed women's issues such as dowry harassment, custodial rape, the rights of workers, and so on. Simultaneously, the growth of dalit literature and theatre saw increased attention given to plays with dalit themes in Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Goa, and Uttar Pradesh. Using Kumar's critically acclaimed play ‘Listen Shefali’ as an example, this chapter analyses the ways in which Kumar's focus on a ‘Harijan’ woman and her resistance to upper-caste notions exposes the consequences of caste hierarchies and examines the implications of eliding gender and class politics in literature dealing with the subject of dalits.

Keywords: dalit womanhood; caste discrimination; gender; women's issues; dalit theatre; Kusum Kumar; Listen Shefali; class politics; Harijan; dalit literature

Chapter.  7636 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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