The novels of Bama, the Tamil - Dalit writer, challenge the hegemony of the narratives of oppression as the default frame of reference in dalit-feminist discourses. They articulate the lived experience of caste and explore the new dimensions of the battles of the Dalit woman.
Bama’s Sangati analyses Dalits women's oppression by double patriarchies –the covert patriarchal stance subsumed within the gender relations of their own community and the overt patriarchal system of the upper castes. Absolute power rests with men in the community and in the institutions led by them - the caste courts, the Church, the panchayats. Domestic violence is one of the major issues foregrounded. The text simultaneously brings forth the patriarchal attitude of the upper castes who equate the visibility of the dalitwoman with availability. But Sangati is not merely yet another tale of the pain of the oppressed Dalit woman. Bama highlights the "difference" of Dalit women from the privileged upper caste women and, more importantly, celebrates their "identity" in their strength, labour and resilience. Though the Dalit women are oppressed, subjugated and looked down upon as inconsequential creatures both by the upper-class people and by their own men, these women exhibit an amazing strength of resistance and survival potential.
Karukku (1992) depictes the sufferings of an individual Dalit woman, whereas Sangati (1994) transcends from the individual to the community. Sangati means news, and the book is full of interconnected events, the everyday happenings in the Dalit community. Lakshmi Holmstrome,who translated Sangati into English, describes it as the autobiography of a community.It portrays the collective struggle of the Dalit women ag...
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... Sangati thus celebrates the fortitude of the Dalit women who can actualize their potential even as they are oppressed by the male dominated and caste ridden society. The feminine ideals of fear, shyness, innocence and modesty are replaced by the womanist ideals of courage, fearlessness, independence and self esteem in the Dalit woman’s ultimate quest for identity.
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