Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Interrogating the Appropriation of Spaces of Caste in Pakistan: Ambedkarian Perspective on Progressive Religio-Political Projections in Sindhi Short Stories and in Everyday Politics

Ghulam Hussain Quaid-i-Azam University

Abstract

This paper is an attempt to understand the appropriation of spaces of Dalits by Sindhi Progressive activists and short story writers in Pakistan as they construct or rather undermine caste at the anvil of religion and gender to project their own religio-political agenda premised on political Sufism or Sufi nationalism. I specifically discuss the narratives emergent of the three popular short stories that are projected as having exceptional emancipatory potential for the Dalits and (Dalit) women. Assessing the emancipatory limits of Sindhi Progressive narrative, I argue while that the short stories purport to give fuller expression to religious, gender-based and class dimension of the problematic, it elides the problem of casteism and the subsequent existential demand of Dalit emancipation. Given the hegemonic influence of local Ashrafia class, the internal caste frictions are glossed over through political Sufism or Sindhi nationalism.

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Supplementary weblinks

‘Dalits are in India, not in Pakistan’: Exploring the Discursive Bases of the Denial of Dalitness under the Ashrafia Hegemony
This paper is an attempt to investigate the discursive bases of the categorical and identity-based choices available to the Dalits under the Ashrafia hegemony, and the resultant denial of Dalitness prevalent among the Dalits and the Sindhi civil society in, Pakistan. Informed by the Ambedkarian (subaltern) perspective, I analyse the conversational interviews conducted with the Dalit activists (mostly Scheduled Castes), and with their Ashrafia class counterparts. Interrogating the superior status of Sayed caste(s), I contend that the the denial of casteism, the opposition to the use of the ‘Dalit’ identity marker and the negation of the Dalitness seemed to have as much to do with the belief in Ashrafia values as it had with the normative sanction of the Savarna values.

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Comment number 1, Alexander Bruno: Jul 12, 2020, 23:51

Good read. Thanks.