A pox on your house: Exploring caste and gender in Tulsi Ram’s Murdahiya

Kapoor, Shivani (2019) A pox on your house: Exploring caste and gender in Tulsi Ram’s Murdahiya. In: Dalit Text: Aesthetics and Politics Re-Imagined. 1st ed. Routledge, London, pp. 138-150. ISBN 9780367149031

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Laura Brueck has suggested that Hindi Dalit autobiographical literature largely constructs a hegemonic ‘male, urban, middle-class Dalit identity’ through its narratives. However, Tulsi Ram’s two-volume autobiography – Murdhaiya and Manikarnika – provides us with a counterfactual to the canonical Dalit male/masculine figure. The pox-marked Tulsi Ram is certainly not a great figure for Dalit masculinity – he has been stained by the angry goddess Sitala Mata. It is this mark of the female/feminine on the autobiographical Tulsi Ram that the chapter explores. Tulsi Ram brings out beautiful affective histories of women in what would otherwise be considered a ‘male’ autobiographical narrative. In doing so, his writing raises a methodological question about writing ‘one-self’ – can a Dalit male autobiography ever have a strong female/feminine presence? Or will this presence threaten to fundamentally alter the nature of self-referential writing itself? This chapter examines Tulsi Ram’s writings in the light of these questions and seeks to interrogate the social and political mores of Dalit male/masculinity through the women of Murdhaiya. These women not only disrupt the maleness of a male Dalit autobiography but also challenge the dominant image of a rational, autonomous, coherent self, which accompanies the conventional autobiographical genre.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Area Studies | Development Studies | Urban Studies | Language and Literature | South Asian Culture | Society
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Arts and Humanities > Literature and Literary Theory
JGU School/Centre: Centre for Writing Studies
Depositing User: Shilpi Rana
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2022 07:30
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2022 10:08
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780367149031
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/942


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