Date: November 23 & 24, 2023
Venue: IFP, Pondicherry
“Those mountains you see, aren’t ours, my son
This lake, depths and shores, aren’t anyone’s, my son.
Worms, tigers; flies, eagles; seals, wild creatures,
Age old gods along with us-the sons of the land
Here where we live in suffering, is the earth, good son,
Here where we quarrel and die, is the now, my good son.”
-puḻu pulikaḷ *
The 1990s saw the beginnings of Tamil Dalit literature. Ten years on, in January 2004, a seminar on Dalit Literature titled “Tamil Dalit Literature: The Challenge and the Response” was organised by the French Institute of Pondicherry (in collaboration with SIGN-SASI organisation, Dindivanam) following which a collected volumes titled “Dalit Ilakkiyam: Eṉatu aṉupavam” (2004) and “Tamil Dalit Literature: My own experience” (2011) in Tamil and English, were brought out in partnership with Vidyal publishers & Elizabeth town community college, USA. Today, 20 years after the seminar, Dalit expression has come into its own, across fields of music, film making, art, literature, publishing and the digital media. Dalit literature has moved into Indian English Writing in addition to the English translations of Dalit literary works. While Dalit expression has come a long way, the majoritarian forces have used the caste divisions within the Dalit community to divide them and to co-opt Dalit communities into the Hindu fold. The Institute will hold a seminar that will critically engage with new generation of Dalit writers to know the state of art in Dalit landscape today. This seminar will mainly involve Tamil Dalit writers along with a few Dalit writers from other Indian languages, singers, artists, publishers across Indian languages and cultures talking about their encounter with Dalit literature.
(*-Puḻu pulikaḷ, extract from a song written by Anwar Ali from the Malayalam movie kammatipaadam, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egYdpXHv_rA)