The linguistic origin of the term Dalit is Marathi, and pre-dates the militant-intellectual Dalit Panthers movement of the 1970s. It was not in popular use till the last quarter of the 20th century, the origin of the term Dalit, although in the 1930s, it was used as Marathi-Hindi translation of the word "Depressed Classes".
The changing nature of caste and Dalits has become a topic of increasing interest in India. This edited book is a collection of originally written chapters by eminent experts on the experiences of Dalits in India. It examines who constitute Dalits and engages with the mainstream subaltern perspective that treats Dalits as a political and economic category, a class phenomenon, and subsumes homogeneity of the entire Dalit population. This book argues that the socio-cultural deprivations of Dalits are their primary deprivations, characterized by heterogeneity of their experiences. It asserts that Dalits have a common urge to liberate from the oppressive and exploitative social arrangement which has been the guiding force of Dalit movement. This book has analysed this movement through three phases: the reformative, the transformative and the confrontationist.
An exploration of dynamic relations between subalternity, exclusion and social change, the book will be of interest to academics in the field of sociology, political science and contemporary India.
Part 1: Introduction 1. Dalits, Subalterns and Social Change in India Part 2: Perspectives on Dalits as Subalterns 2. Dalits are not merely Subalterns: the need for a different perspective 3. Glimpses of Traditions For and Against Untouchability Part 3: Constructing New Historiography 4. Dalit Memoirs: A New Source of Historiography 5. Subalternity and Popular Religion: Religiosity and Making of the Bhajans of Dharanidas Part 4: Education as Liberator 6. Education and Dalit Liberation: Possibilities and Constraints 7. Socialization Experience of Doctoral Students in Indian Academia: Do Caste and Class Matter? Part 5: Changing Socio-Cultural Space 8. Politics, Caste and Dalit Subalternity: Reflecting on the Modes of Engagement 9. Rural Dalit Women: Assertion for Change 10. Dalit Women in Uttar Pradesh: Experiencing Subalternity and Exclusion Part 6: The Last Citizens of India 11. Manual Scavengers: Apathetic state and callous society 12. Dalits and Devdasi System: A Dignified Form of Sexual Slavery