Fracturing the Historical Continuity on Truth: Jotiba Phule in the Quest for Personhood of Shudras

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Snehashish Das


Anti-caste traditions in India work to understand and examine the idea of personhood which the majority in India is deprived of by virtue of being born in the lower rungs of the caste hierarchy. This paper examines the historical continuity in Brahminism and the rupture Jotiba Phule presents to it through his art and activism which serves to disturb the regular flow of singular continuity of what is perceived as history and historiography. Jotiba’s quest is for finding the essence / personhood of, what Butler calls, a ‘precarious subject’ and recognizing that precarious subject – the Shudra, as a subject of history. But the personhood of this precarious subject is never a complete personhood. Therefore, Jotiba attempts to unveil the path towards achieving complete personhood which is embedded in reaffirming the lost or concealed truth – by discontinuing the historical flow of the social structure of caste and establishing a new subject rising out of crisis in social structure in history. I have chosen two works from Jotiba’s works as new methodological tools for history writing and historical criticism, and made hermeneutical and phenomenological readings of the both. The works are his poem Kulambin (a peasant woman), and the Satyashodhak (truth-seeker) marriage as the public performance of protest- as they are both - the essential and the mundane to his life, which exemplifies the truth Jotiba followed and established an organization Satyashodhak Samaj (Society of Truth Seekers) as a testament to it.

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Das, S. (2021). Fracturing the Historical Continuity on Truth: Jotiba Phule in the Quest for Personhood of Shudras. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 2(1), 30-46.
Research Articles
Author Biography

Snehashish Das, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi