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This article critically examines the university academic spaces and the campus culture determined by a particular form of the dominant habitus which is, in effect, actively excluding the first-generation women students belonging to the marginalized sections of Indian society. As this dominant habitus is constantly reproduced on university campuses, with or without contentions, entering the academic spaces of Indian universities for first-generation Dalit women—who are deprived of both cultural and social capital—is invariably becoming a herculean task. Therefore, this article analyses the concealed forms of dominant campus habitus that structurally create a conducive environment for privileged students and a rigid glass ceiling for first-generation Dalit women students in their journey toward higher education. Notwithstanding the limitations associated with their social status of being first-generation learners, the formations of alternative cultural capital and resilience of the Dalit women students have been analysed from a feminist perspective, proving that one could overcome these social challenges through the acquired cultural capital. The analytical concepts and theoretical frameworks of this article have been developed based on empirical/ethnographic data collected from women research scholars at a prominent university in South India. The narratives were collected in the academic year 2020–2021 through in-depth interviews and focused group discussions.
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