Monday, March 19, 2012

[ZESTCaste] US black writing echoes pain of Dalit literature

US black writing echoes pain of Dalit literature
Published: Sunday, Mar 18, 2012, 15:36 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA

In Dalit literature, India, like the US, has its own black literature.
The literature of US blacks is similar to Dalit literature in that
both are records of the tragedy of their respective histories.

This was the general view among scholars who participated in a two-day
national seminar on black literature, organised by Gujarat
University's Department of English.

The department had organised the seminar on the topic, 'Celebrating
Blackness Offshore: Reading Black Literature from Indian perspective,'
in the run up to the International Day for the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination that falls on March 21. The two-day event ended on
Saturday, March 17.

Participants discussed and presented papers on various aspects of
literature of the black people of the US. Alice Walker's 1982 novel,
The Color Purple, which won the Pulitzer prize for fiction, was among
the books discussed along with the concept of motherhood and
Afro-American identity in paintings by black artists.

On the first day, Dr Sudha Rai, dean, faculty of arts, Jodhpur
University, presented a paper in which she compared African-American
literature with Dalit literature. Calling both literatures similar in
that they were records of 'tragedy of history', Rai explored the
question whether or not the two literatures could throw light on each

A documentary and discussion on writers Toni Morrison and Alice Walker
was held later in the day. The highlight of the second day was a panel
discussion on the contemporary trends of the same literature.

The seminar, the third national seminar organised by the department,
was an attempt not only to celebrate a literature that was born out of
oppression, but also to use that knowledge in the Indian context. As
Rai said, "We fail to see our own weaknesses. The African-American
literature holds up the mirror to us."


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