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Welcome to the Dalit research guide! This guide is for students and scholars interested in learning and researching Dalits. Here you will find Dalit resources including non-fiction, fiction, movies, and links to other free resources. In this section, you will find general reference information, databases, relevant keywords, and bibliographies about Dalits.
Who are Dalits?
Dalit is the word most commonly used to refer to India’s untouchables in the early twenty-first century. Its basic meaning is “broken, ground down,” but “oppressed” is the best translation for its current use. It is a self-chosen word, made popular by the Dalit Panthers in Bombay (now Mumbai) in the 1970s. It replaces ex-untouchable (used because the constitution of independent India made the practice of untouchability illegal) and Harijan (children of God), Mahatma Gandhi’s kind but patronizing term. Scheduled castes is an official governmental designation created in 1935 when a list or schedule was created for castes that qualified for special representation or governmental benefits. Scheduled tribes refers to tribes that merit special treatment. The term Dalit often includes both castes and tribes and may be used by any group that feels itself oppressed. Adivasi is another term used to describe the aboriginal population of South Asia. While they are not equivalent to Dalits, they often face similar prejudice.
Dalits comprise one-sixth of the population of India, approximately 160 million people, and there are some four hundred castes considered “untouchable.” The practice of untouchability was “abolished” in the constitution of independent India (articles 15 and 17), and the Untouchability (Offenses) Act of 1955 makes such discriminatory practices punishable by law. Article 46 provides the Indian version of affirmative action, specifically the promotion of educational and economic benefits for the “weaker sections” of the society. However, this formal abolition has not prevented discrimination against Dalits that still exist today.
Encyclopedias about Dalits and Race
Encyclopaedia of Backward Castes by
Call Number: 305.56880954 M426e - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2004
Four volume encyclopedia about the backward castes of India:
v. 1. Reservation; v. 2. Commissions; v. 3. Mandal, media and aftermath; v. 4. Judgements: before and after Mandal Judgement
Encyclopaedia of Dalits in India by
Call Number: 305.568095403 En19 - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2002
Fourteen volume encyclopedia about Dalits in India:
v. 1. General study; v. 2. Struggle for self liberation; v. 3. Movements; v. 4. Leaders; v. 5. Reservation; v. 6. Constitution; v. 7. Social justice; v. 8. Emancipation and empowerment; v. 9. Women; v. 10. Education; v. 11. Literature.; v.12. Human rights: problems and perspective; v. 13. Human rights: role of police and judiciary; v. 14. Human rights: new dimensions in Dalit problems
Encyclopedia of Race and Racism by
Call Number: Electronic Access
Publication Date: 2013
Examines the anthropological, sociological, historical, economic, and scientific theories of race and racism in the modem era. Delves into the historic origins of ideas of race and racism and explores their social and scientific consequences. Includes biographies of significant theorists, as well as political and social leaders and notorious racists.
While this is a general encyclopedia about race and racism, it contains information about Dalit race-related issues.
Research Databases and Keywords
Use the following keywords to search for information about Dalits:
adivasi, "backward classes", casteism, dalit*, "depressed classes", harijan, "scheduled castes", "scheduled tribes", shudra, sudra, untouchability, untouchable*, varna
Academic Search Ultimate This link opens in a new window
This is a multidisciplinary database which provides over 10,000 publications. Use this database for a general search about Dalits. While this provides access to numerous scholarly resources, it may not provide information for a very specific research question.
Access World News This link opens in a new window
This provides U.S. domestic and international news articles from 1978 to the present. Use this resource if searching for print and online-only newspapers, blogs, newswires, journals, broadcast transcripts and videos. This has a map-based interface which is helpful for a visual search.
Alt-PressWatch This link opens in a new window
Use this resource if looking for articles from alternative or independent presses from 1970 to the present. This can be helpful if looking for lesser known resources that deviate from mainstream views, specifically within local, national, and international politics, economics, and culture. This can be a helpful database to search within since Dalit voices have been historically silenced.
Bibliography of Asian Studies This link opens in a new window
This database provides resources from 1971 to the present about a variety of topics (focused within the humanities and social sciences) about Asia. You can search journal articles, books, and book chapters through this database.
International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) This link opens in a new window
This is an international bibliography focusing upon social sciences. This is not specific to Asia, however, it includes South Asian journals and books in multiple languages. You can search within certain geographic parameters as well.
JSTOR This link opens in a new window
JSTOR is a large database with a vast amount of resources pertaining to the humanities, social sciences, and basic sciences dating back very far as well as including more current information. This would be useful for starting out with Dalit research.
Left Index This link opens in a new window
This database focuses upon literature pertaining to left-leaning politics, specifically political, economic, social, and cultural resources. This would be a great resource to use when searching information about Dalit political struggles and leftist ideologies, especially related to political movements, race and ethnicity, and sociology.
PAIS Index This link opens in a new window
This is a great resource if you're interested in researching political, economic, and social policies related to Dalits. This database provides more of a historical perspective of different policies affecting the international landscape.
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts This link opens in a new window
This database focuses upon international political science, governmental and public policy, and law. Use this resource if your research about Dalits pertains to international relations as it relates to policy.
Here are some Dalit bibliographies and Dalit writer resources from the University Library:
Dalit Bibliography by
Call Number: 305.568095496 D159 - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 2007
This bibliography focuses upon Dalit resources for Nepal. It also has information relating to other South Asian countries as well. Some of the information is written in Nepali.
Select Bibliography on Scheduled Castes by
Call Number: 016.30556 M115S - Main Stacks
Publication Date: 1983
This bibliography includes books, articles, and reports about Dalits. Most of these are English publications, however, some are in South Asian vernacular. This contains bibliographic entries for works published until 1983.
Who's Who of Dalit Writers in India by
Call Number: 1995
Publication Date: 891.40922 W622 - Main Stacks
This is an index of Dalit writers in India. It includes basic biographical information, contact information, and published works. This can be a helpful resource for discovering new Dalit writers (until 1995).
International and Area Studies Library
Subjects: African Studies
, Chinese Studies
, European Union
, Global Studies
, Japanese Studies
, Korean Studies
, Latin America
, Middle East
, Religious Studies
, Slavic & East European
, South Asian Studies
This LibGuide was created by Nisha Mody for her practicum during Summer 2016. Nisha is an MLIS candidate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's iSchool.