1/24/2011 Assignment 3

Manoj Kumar MA in Elementary Education Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

The author earns some respect among her peer in one of her schools through hard work. Christian Dalit women. 2000) –an autobiographical account of a Dalit Christian women traverses its readers through the variegated experiences of the author in a particular socio-historical milieu. In feminist discourse autobiographical accounts and other narrative forms like diaries. it cannot make any long term structural changes. Rich textured description and appreciation of life itself even amid the repression. violence and destitution by the author cannot be captured by adding few more qualifiers before women. like Dalit women. In this backdrop reading Bama’s autobiography is quite rewarding. Here is a young dalit woman who is trying to change her fate through education and adherence to certain religious order which appears to be based on compassion. these Dalit with capital ‘D’ and ‘Christian with capital ‘C’ can also be categories means glossing over many lived experiences. Tamil Christian Dalit women. What she realizes over the years is the fact that while education can be empowering for an individual and make some minor positional changes. When we pass through such accounts we usually realize a tension between the great urge for theory building and recapitulating the experiences through a set of conceptual categories on the one hand and being honest to specificity of the lifeworld on the other.and attempt to capture life-world through Nonetheless putting things together. comparing and recapitulating discrete experiences through some categories/frameworks help in organizing resistance and politics of liberation. Approach for making connections could be paradigmatic or syntactic.a network in which the issue of centre and periphery does not occur. while the moments of systematic abuses are .so on and so forth. making connections. After advent of post-structuralism this approach received more appreciation. The moments of dignity and glory are momentary and short-lived. the ascriptive identities of being women and dalit looms large.Karukku (Bama. universalizing and essentialzing. letters and journals received attention and celebration of diversity became order of the day. justice and equality before the god. Syntactic approach gives space to specificity of experiences and makes connections like rhizome.

Author’s elder brother opens up the possibilities and promises of education when he advises her to study hard. watching all the fun and games that were going on. The performing monkeys. the shops and bazaar. It also takes its sustenance from a particular socialinstitutional ecology. justice and equality. When she returns from school there are so many things to see“I was walking home from school one day. Every mountain and field has a particular name. But usually it would take me thirty minutes at the very least to reach home. In Bama’s account both school and religious order established by womansaint represent alternative social sites which provide interpretive frameworks. all the entertaining novelties and oddities in the streets.all pervasive. It was actually possible to walk the distance in ten minutes. Other alternative sites of comprehension can be found in quasi-mythological communitarian accounts which are so well woven in the narrative and also author’s lust for life itself in whatever forms it comes to her. It seems. Similarly patriarchy shapes the way people comprehend and act in the social world. Caste and patriarchy have constitutive role in shaping the cognitive-interpretive framework. It would take me from half an hour to an hour to dawdle along. The Bama’s account does not engage with the politics of school knowledge so much. but she does provide vivid accounts of her first school in village and convent school. probably school holds some promises of emancipation. Prevalent practices of caste and other forms of discriminations notwithstanding. . school as a modernizing institution does not breed in a sociohistorical vacuum. In India presence of caste as an institution is all pervasive. Dalit intellectuals like Ambedkar and Phule had recognized this potential of modernizing institution. an old bag hanging from my shoulder. Village is not a place where just human beings live. Sometimes life appears to her in kaleidoscopic forms. Nonetheless it appears from the account that those moments of glory give her taste for dignity.

Oh I could go on and on. Fortunately it does not look natural to a dalit girl of school going age who has eyes for details. subject to no conditions. The description Bama provides of Pallas (landless dalit) man who brings snacks for Naicker (landholding upper caste) man is a narrative of dehumanization. The morphology and ideology of caste pervade school and convent also where she decides to become a nun. Capturing these movements and gestures through the categories of established social science disciplines would have been impossible. the dried fish stall by the statue of Gandhi. the street lights always demonstrating how it could change from blue to violet. She writes“There was no love to be found in that convent. among these people who declared all the time that God is loving. . There was no love for poor and humble. the rupees note that were pinned on his shirt to spurn him on. Yet inside the convent there were innumerable conditions. the sweet stall selling fried snacks.” (Pages. the cyclist who have not got off his bike for three days. and all other shops next to each other. the pongal offerings being cooked in front of the temple. the Maariyaata temple. They claimed that God’s love is limitless. it also dictates gestures and movements of various social actors. but gradually she realizes that the convent is citadel of rituals and habitual action and there is no scope for reflection on the aims and meanings of human life. clay beads and instruments for cleaning out the ears. the narikkuravan hunter-gypsy with his wild lemur in cages.a process which is so prevalent that it appears natural to a properly socialized actor. Her decision to become nun has been driven by her willingness to do something for the deprived people.the snake which the snake-charmer kept in its box and displayed from time to time. Somewhere Church and particular religiosity holds promises for compassion and justice. the huge well hanging there. the spinning wheels. The morphology of caste does not simply define social spaces. and who kept paddling as hard as he could from break of day.11-12) Alongside this vivid kaleidoscopic description there is structured social life.the entire social geography of village.

but reality of the convent school where she teaches as a nun is similar“If you are inclined to think.97) Gradually author realizes that either she can live a comfortable life in convent as an individual by erasing all her memories of being Dalit of pallar caste and being women or she has to leave the convent. As she writes in her afterword association and identification with this general social cause gives meaning to her life. Finally she leaves the convent and get back to live like an ordinary educated dalit woman.” (page-92) The reality in school is not much different.About how you should be and who you were in order to deserve love. sleek and well-fed. I have to say. but at least school would have been good. They sat in rows. Even the smallest children would eat meals which were brought to them by servant boys and girls. and whom they grandly ordered around. the author and narrator does not specially provide those vantage points to the readers. Bama gives description of her own childhood school in initial parts of the autobiography. but eventually she realizes that the certain elements of caste and class have got institutionalized in school. She looks possibility for working in an ordinary school run by convent for the children of deprived classes. Though as a reader one can point out to the places where distribution of power and roles along the lines of gender is visible in the narrative. the convent was like this. Each class was full of children from the wealthy families. Attention has not been given to the way patriarchy works even in deprives communities. no. Richness of description vis-à-vis woman’s experiences is not as striking in this autobiographical account as it is with regard to dalit experiences.” (Page. Amidst many personal struggle and failures of life she joins various struggles against dalit oppression. All they had to do was to light skinned and to arrive in cars. . well all right. actually it was worse.

Trans.) Chennai: MACMILLAN. Ed. . Holmstrom.Bama. Karukku. Krishnan. (2000). & L. (M..

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