“Theorizing Anti-Casteism by Placing the Dalit Woman at the Intersection”
Ms Atufah Nishat
MPhil Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC), West Bengal, India
Anti-casteism is an ideological critique of various mystification that masks the qualities of caste-governed lives (Dhanda,2019). This paper uses Crenshaw’s (1989) concept of intersectionality to understand the everyday experiences at the workplace of the Dalit women belonging to the manual scavenging community (Dom community) of New Market, Kolkata, West Bengal. By understanding the experiences of Dalit women who lie at the intersection of double discrimination (Paik, 2014) or multiple forms of oppression, this paper tries to see how intersectionality can be used as a conceptual and methodological tool to theorize on and expand our understanding of anti-casteism. An understanding of Dalit women’s lived experiences of violence and humiliation provides a starting point to see how structures oppress them and give us an understanding of how Dalit women negotiate through these structures to exercise their agency and resist the structures that cause their double discrimination. This paper tries to map out and understand the concept of intersectionality by placing the Dalit woman at the intersections of caste, class, and gender oppression and see how these structures play out in her everyday life. This paper attempts to place the experiences of the Dalit woman vis-a-vis her male and upper-caste lower-class female counterparts to understand how her experiences are similar or different from theirs. This paper is based on the narratives collected through face-to-face interviews and tries to explore how lying at the intersection produces everyday instances of violence and humiliation for Dalit women. This paper uses Dalit feminist theory to highlight how structures of oppression often overlap in various ways to produce the Dalit women’s everyday lives. It attempts to highlight the argument that when we theorize on anti-casteism we need to take into account how casteism is interlocked and often overlapped with other forms of oppression.
Crenshaw, K. 1989. Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women. Standford Law Review. Vol.43, No.6, pp.1241-1299
Dhanda, M. 2019. Philosophical Foundations of Anti-Casteism. Meeting of the Aristotelian Society held at the Institute of Education, University of London
Paik, S. 2014. Dalit Women's Education in Modern India: Double Discrimination. Routledge. London