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panel discussion, reading
Giving a Voice to the Voiceless
Urvashi Butalia and Faustina Bama
Admission: 4 , concessions 2,50
perception, taboo, writing
Followed by a discussion
with Faustina Bama, Urvashi Butalia, Githa Hariharan and Paul Zacharia
Language: English and German

When the former nun Faustina Bama published her life story “Karukku”, the book caused a furore in the Indian literary scene. It voices a rebellion against the clerical and social ostracism of the author, who left the convent in 1992. At the same time it also confronts Bama’s existence as a Dalit, an Untouchable. The publication set off a lively discussion on Dalit literature – a literature about the Untouchables which, ever since the seventies, is increasingly being written by the Untouchables themselves.
India’s painful partition into Pakistan and India in 1947 is the subject of the author and women’s activist Urvashi Butalia in “The Other Side of Silence – Voices from the Partition of India“. Drawing on personal fates, the Indian author draws public attention to a chapter of Indian-Pakistani history that has been repressed to this day: more than 12 million people were resettled during the partition. One million people died. More than 75,000 women were kidnapped and raped. Villages, communities and family bonds were destroyed. Urvashi Butalia lives and works in Delhi.

As certain social groups come to dominate in India, minorities are increasingly marginalized and ignored by society. Many writers see it as their duty to lend a voice to these marginal groups and question the kind of cultural stereotypes that circulate about minorities in general. The discussion thematizes these aspects and focuses especially on issues of gender roles and caste society.