ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Beyond just rage: Resistance Aesthetics and the poetry of Namdeo Dhasal


Ghatak Akashneel - University of Texas at Austin, African and African Diaspora Studies, Austin, United States


26 – Radical Poetics in the Literary Cultures of South Asia


 The very term resistance poetry in itself assumes a generic shift which is paradigmatic. It is what poetry has not been before it came,for which we needed a new label,a sub-generic marker,a closed nomenclature? The question then is what makes a poem of resistance? If we are calling it a generic shift,then what are the markers of this change? Are these markers fixed? A not so irrelevant question of chronology also seeks equal attention that if resistance is as old as poetry,then why is resistance poetry so ‘new’? Are we talking about mere scholarly ignorance and the processes of cannonization or critical organization or are we asking a better basic question that was all poetry from it’s begining non-resistant?

  This paper seeks to understand these questions in the context of the poetry of Namdeo Dhasal, post-colonial India’s major Dalit poet. Dhasal,a cab driver turned poet,whom many call the Baudlaire of Marathi poetry, begins a poetic repertoire which tore apart the Bramhical aesthetic order of his day. Sharankumar Limbale in his book ‘Toward a Dalit Aesthetics’ mentions how ‘Krodh’ (Anger) becomes a tenth rasa in Dalit Literature and it is perhaps this repertoire of anger we identify most articulated in resistance poetry, this paper then develops on the validity of this expectation,to ask in what ways this idea of a resistance poem can also be fixed,closed and counter-critical. This would need us to consider the newness of ‘resistance poetry’ and trace a generic analysis.