Voices of Dalit Activism

Introduction and Purpose

Purpose of Project 
Having read Emily Wilcox’s Honors Capstone paper titled “An Investigation of the Intersection between Art and Activism", her chapter the necessity of artistic expression opened my eyes to the ability that art has to regenerate and restore groups that society has scarred. That was the birth of this project, to create a collective of various types of art practiced by members of the Dalit community whilst providing sufficient context to the art

Historically, the Dalits (दलित) or the "Untouchables" have been at the very bottom of the caste system that is prevalent in the Indian Subcontinent. This social differentiation has significantly impacted the ability of communities at the bottom of the system to achieve their aspirations in any shape or form. Rooted in the Hindu Varna’s, these classifications came about as a result of one's occupation, wealth, power and privilege. The research report in The Hindu release by the Chairman of the Indian University Grant Commission highlights the shameful practices conducted to this day.

Dalit passengers were required to vacate seats in government owned State transport buses for non-Dalit passengers... Even in tea kiosks, cups were separated for the Dalits and such customers were required to clean their own utensils... Dalit students were not served water in schools. They were expected to go home and carry their own water with them. 

Factors such as this have hindered the literacy rate of the Dalit community and their ability to break their existing cycle of poverty and achieve their aspirations. 
This is where activism comes to play.
Considering that the common avenues of activism are inaccessible to the Dalit community, this collective will explore all the artistic avenues taken instead. While there are archives/collective for a particular forms of art there is no platform has one place where they can access it all. This platform will act as a collective to amplify the voices of Dalits through art. 


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