Daniel Bilton

My PhD thesis, titled ‘Dalit Writing in the 21st Century: Activism and Literary Experimentation in Modern India’, will explore the current relationship between Dalit literature and forms of political and cultural activism, through an analysis of literature published within the 21st century. To do this, I will analyse a variety of texts which use aspects of Dalit culture in ways which generate a sense of self-respect for both the characters within the texts, and the Dalit readership. This includes locating art forms such as dance and storytelling, and exploring how Dalit writers engage with these within their texts. I will also analyse the use of oral narrative, and explore how writers are able to fashion their texts in ways which resemble this form of storytelling. This often creates challenging texts, which seamlessly slip between different narrative strands. Alongside performance, I will also analyse the use of Dalit specific gods, and how writers are able to use these figures as empowering symbols of the Dalit condition. These gods are entities that have been developed within Dalit communities, and away from the temples of the upper-caste Hindus, due to Dalits being denied access to these traditional forms of worship. I will also explore the use of Buddhism in contemporary Dalit literature, as conversion from Hinduism to Buddhism was one of the key forms of Dalit protest in the 20th century. This thesis, through studying literature published post-2000, will critically engage with current Dalit activism, and will examine the relationship that it has with contemporary Dalit literature as a vehicle for social change.
This PhD is being conducted in conjunction with NTU’s Postcolonial Study Centre, and is funded by the Midlands3Cities DTP.
Website: https://vpp.midlands3cities.ac.uk/display/N0503802ntuacuk/Welcome
Twitter: DanielBilton4