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Appropriation of Caste Spaces in Pakistan: The Theo-Politics of Short Stories in Sindhi Progressive Literature

Department of Anthropology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, G.P.O. 44000, Pakistan
Religions 2019, 10(11), 627; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110627
Received: 9 September 2019 / Revised: 7 November 2019 / Accepted: 9 November 2019 / Published: 12 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dalits and Religion: Ambiguity, Tension, Diversity and Vitality)
This paper is an attempt to understand the appropriation of spaces of Dalits by Sindhi progressive activists and short story writers in Pakistan as they construct, or rather undermine, caste at the anvil of religion and gender to reframe their own theo-political agenda premised on political Sufism or Sufi nationalism. I specifically discuss the narratives emergent of the three popular short stories that are reframed as having exceptional emancipatory potential for the Dalits. Assessing the emancipatory limits of the Sindhi progressive narrative, I argue that while the short stories purport to give fuller expression to religious, gender-based, and class dimensions of the problem, it elides the problem of casteism and the subsequent existential demand of Dalit emancipation. Given the hegemonic influence of local Ashrafia class, the internal caste frictions are glossed over through political Sufism or Sindhi nationalism. This gloss of politicized Sufism hampers Dalit agency and rather facilitates the appropriation of Dalit spaces by the Ashrafia class. This leads to the conclusion that the seemingly progressive literary-political narratives framed in theo-political idiom may offer to the oppressed no more than token sympathy, compassion, self-pity, and false pride in legends. Instead, they allow the appropriation of spaces and events of the oppressed, and the objectification of oppressed bodies by the oppressor. View Full-Text
Keywords: casteism; Ashrafia-Savarna patriarchy; appropriation of spaces; hegemony; progressive literature; everyday politics casteism; Ashrafia-Savarna patriarchy; appropriation of spaces; hegemony; progressive literature; everyday politics
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Hussain, G. Appropriation of Caste Spaces in Pakistan: The Theo-Politics of Short Stories in Sindhi Progressive Literature. Religions 2019, 10, 627.

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