The New Subaltern Speaks Now

Exposing the Intersectional Discrimination in Urmila Pawar’s The Weave of My Life: A Dalit Woman’s Memoirs

  • Rajni Singh Indian Institute of Technology, Dhanbad
Keywords: Dalit (Mahar) women, caste, class & gender, intersectionality, Urmila Pawar, autobiography, Dalit feminist epistemology


Among the many subalterns in India, Dalit women are the most vulnerable. This category of subaltern is built on the intersections of caste, class, and gender. There has been a long history of systematically silencing and othering them through systemic violence and repressive mechanisms. However, growing awareness among these subalterns of their social status has led to a new category of subaltern who dares to speak about their social realities by unmasking their historical subordination and by sharing their everyday experiences—for example, their experiences of being a Dalit and a Dalit woman. Life Writings by Dalit women reflect the Dalit feminist consciousness which is central to the understanding of the institutions of power and the way it operates, exacerbating the suffering of these women. Urmila Pawar’s Aaydaan (a generic term used for all the things woven from bamboo), translated from Marathi into English with the title The Weave of My Life: A Dalit Woman’s Memoirs, deals with the lives of Dalit Mahar women who face intersectional discrimination as Dalit, as women, and as poor women. By offering the historical realities of Mahar women, the narrative challenges structural injustice first by unmasking the historical subordination of these women and then by tracing its continuity to show how discrimination manifests at the present time. The paper attempts to demonstrate how Dalit women’s experiences are built around differences and the manner in which the Dalit female narratives expose structural barriers and in the process constitute a new knowledge—a Dalit feminist epistemolog —thereby making spaces for an enriched feminist theory.


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How to Cite
Singh, R. (2022). The New Subaltern Speaks Now: Exposing the Intersectional Discrimination in Urmila Pawar’s The Weave of My Life: A Dalit Woman’s Memoirs. Archiv orientální, 90(2), 309-331.
Research Article