Dark Interiors

Essays on Caste and Dalit Culture

Raj Gauthaman


‘Except women and Dalits, I do not think there is anyone discriminated at birth.’

These words give an idea of Raj Gauthaman’s succinct and provocative critique, translated into English for the first time by Theodore Baskaran. The essays engage with dalit liberation politics, the relationship of dalits with Tamil history and the many strands that constitute radical dalit culture. Gauthaman discusses dalit history and what the progress of non-brahmin politics in Tamil Nadu has meant for dalits.

This analysis of the alternative cultural expressions of dalits, politics, art and literature comes from essays written in 1992–2002, which remain perennial and startlingly new. The author’s discussion of Iyothee Thass Pandithar—who preceded Ambedkar by 50 years—of Ambedkar and Periyar, of postmodernism and Subaltern Studies, provides a new cultural history that tells us about dalit assertion today.

Raj Gauthaman

(b. 1950, Virudhnagar) is a leading Tamil intellectual who was part of a core group of mainly dalit writers and thinkers in the 1990s who were behind the influential little magazine, Nirapirigai. He has authored twenty research works that analyse the development of Tamil culture from ancient to modern periods with a focus on subaltern dalit perspectives. He retired as Head of the Tamil Department at the Kanchi Mamunivar Centre for Postgraduate Studies in Puducherry.