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University Library Collection
The autobiography is a personal account of one's own life. Several Dalits have written autobiographies detailing their life struggles. This is a true testament to raising one's own voice through the written word. The library collection of Dalit autobiographies consists of 22 titles. Most of these are in English or Marathi (language native to the Indian state Maharashtra). Shashi Bhushan Upadhyay discusses the importance of Dalit autobiographies in "Meaning of Work in Dalit Autobiographies".
Against All Odds by
Call Number: 891.46 K124BK124k:E - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2000
Autobiography of 20th century Marathi author. Kale's autobiography tells of the ill-treatment meted to ''tamasha'' dancers by male members of his community -- the ''Kolhati'' community.
This can be a great read for those interested in a microcosm of the dance culture within the the Dalit culture from the perspective of a Dalit dancer himself.
Call Number: 305.51220954 V245j - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2003
Omprakash Valmiki describes his life as an untouchable, or Dalit, in the newly independent India of the 1950s. "Joothan" refers to scraps of food left on a plate, destined for the garbage or animals. India's untouchables have been forced to accept and eat joothan for centuries, and the word encapsulates the pain, humiliation, and poverty of a community forced to live at the bottom of India's social pyramid.
Outcaste: A Memoir by
Call Number: 305.5688092 J173j:E - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2003
This autobiography is a multilayered personalized saga of the social metamorphosis of Dalits in India. At one level, it is a loving tribute from a son to his father. At another, it gives an intelligent appraisal of the caste system in India and traces the story of the awakening of Dalits traversing three generations. At still another level, it is reflective of the aspirations of millions of Dalits in India.
The Prisons We Broke by
Call Number: PK2418.K26 J5613 2008 - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2009
Baby Kamble reclaims memory to locate the Mahar society before it was impacted by Babasaheb Ambedkar, and tells a consequent tale of redemption wrought by a fiery brand of social and self-awareness.
Not only was being a Dalit considered impure, but being a woman in a patriarchal culture was quite difficult despite your caste origin. Reading Baby Kamble's perspective would be helpful to anyone interested in the intersection of race, class, and gender.
Call Number: 305.568 V815v:E - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 1997
Viramma tells her fascinating life story with the unsentimentality, humour and dramatic sense of a born storyteller. In this remarkable book she reveals the world of an extraordinary woman living at the very margins of Indian society.
This can be an excellent read for those interested in phenomenal storytelling. While Viramma did not write this herself, it is still a great perspective from a Dalit woman storyteller.
South Asian Vernacular
Call Number: PK2418.P596 Z471984 - Oak Street
Publication Date: 1984
In Marathi. Autobiography of a Dalit activist, writer, and slum rehabilitator.
Polke is also the founder of Samata Shikshan Prasarak Mandal (SSPM), and NGO for children with disabilities. Learn more at www.samtango.org.
Call Number: PK2418.L564 Z4641984 - Oak Street
Publication Date: 1984
In Marathi. The caste of a Hindu Indian, Limbale frequently tells us, determines everything about his life, including the clothes he will wear, the person he will marry, and the food he will eat. Limbale describes the life a man who suffered not only through this caste system but also through the pain of not even being allowed into the caste system: he was an outcaste, below everyone else.
Call Number: PK2418.P33 Z463 - Oak Street
Publication Date: 1978
In Marathi. The first Dalit autobiography to be published, Baluta caused a sensation when it first appeared, in Marathi, in 1978. It quickly acquired the status of a classic of modern Indian literature and was also a bestseller in Hindi and other major languages. Set in Mumbai and rural Maharashtra of the 1940s and '50s, it describes in shocking detail the practice of untouchability and caste violence.
See the Movies/Music tab to learn about some music that Daya Pawar wrote to advocate for Dalits.
Call Number: PK2418.M645 Z471983 - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 1983
In Marathi. Gabala translates to "The Household". Autobiography of a Dalit writer.
Call Number: BX4668.3.V57 A31994 - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 1994
In Tamil. Autobiography of a former Tamil Dalit Catholic nun, now a social activist working for the welfare of Untouchables in Tamil Nadu.
This autobiography would be a helpful to read about if interested in a female perspective and perspectives of religious conversion, a frequent occurrence as a result of Dalit oppression.
Upadhyay, S. B. (2010). Meaning of work in dalit autobiographies. Studies in History, 26(1), 31-60. doi:10.1177/025764301002600102