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Columbia University Press
Joothan: An Untouchable's Life / Edition 1

Joothan: An Untouchable's Life / Edition 1

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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.

Although untouchability was abolished in 1949, Dalits continued to face discrimination, economic deprivation, violence, and ridicule. Valmiki shares his heroic struggle to survive a preordained life of perpetual physical and mental persecution and his transformation into a speaking subject under the influence of the great Dalit political leader, B. R. Ambedkar. A document of the long-silenced and long-denied sufferings of the Dalits, Joothan is a major contribution to the archives of Dalit history and a manifesto for the revolutionary transformation of society and human consciousness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231129725
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 07/10/2003
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 8.25(w) x 5.50(h) x (d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Omprakash Valmiki is the author of two collections of poetry and one of short stories. As editor and publisher of numerous magazines, he has played a vital role in the propagation of Dalit literature.Arun Prabha Mukherjee is professor of English at York University in Toronto. She is the author of Postcolonialism: My Living and Oppositional Aesthetics: Readings from a Hyphenated Space.

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Arun Prabha Mukherjee
Preface to the Hindi Edition
Introduction, by Arun Prabha Mukherjee

What People are Saying About This

Sumit Guha

A searing memoir of the life of a sensitive and intelligent Dalit youth in independent India. Joothan tells us how he overcame contempt, humiliation, and violence to gain an education and join the slowly growing ranks of Dalit intellectuals in India. Full of vivid sketches of people and events, this book is indispensable to those who would understand modern South Asia, and valuable for those interested in gaining a comparative understanding of social discrimination and its effects worldwide.

Eleanor Zelliot

A moving evocation of the underside of life in India.... An excellent translation from the Hindi with a useful introduction to the life of a man who deliberately uses his name, Valmiki, to signify his identification with the lowly scavenger even though he has climbed up to status as a middle class intellectual.

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