ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Dakhni Identity: A Political Construction On a True Basis?


Casadei Maria - Jagiellonian University, Institute of the Middle and Far East, Krakow, Poland


32 – Dynamics of Language Diversity, Multilingual Identities and Linguistic Nationalism in South Asia


The term Dakhni is generally associated with the geographical area of the Deccan plateau located in South India. It encompasses the present-day states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. As observed by historians and linguists over time, this region witnessed the birth and development of a southern speech named Dakhni, also known as Dakhni Urdu. In the last few years, the term Dakhni has emerged in the public domain as well in popular culture to define and mark a South Indian identity as opposed to the Northern counterpart. The aim of the paper is to reflect on the modern notion and conceptualisation of Dakhni identity, identifying its nature, boundaries, cultural and linguistic basis. The proposed research further investigates the use of the term ‘Dakhni’, observing how it is employed both by Indian intelligentsia and young artists to express a sense of belonging to the Deccan region and forge the Dakhni identity. After studying the activity and role of Indian intelligentsia in enforcing identity consciousness in the Deccan, the paper takes into consideration various forms of identity expression in popular culture, such as stand-up comedies and rap music. Finally, it is discussed whether the South Indian claim of a separate identity can be perceived as a form of opposition towards the political far right agenda imposing linguistic and cultural hegemony within the country.