Dragging Caste: Forms of Self-Making in Precarious Times

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter considers the logic of “passing, " by which the subject wears the veneer of a caste-other, as a subaltern strategy of social life. How does the everyday violence of a stratified society produce new social forms and ways of being? Yashica Dutt’s memoir, Coming Out as Dalit [2019], gestures to precisely that phenomenon. Costuming, cross-dressing, masquerade, and mimicry: as Dutt says, “Artifice is not easy.” In this chapter, I study caste evasion as a way to consider the precarity of Dalit life-temporary, in between, uncertain-and suggest that we consider the ‘drag’ that hangs on the subject-a conceptual space between the putative burden of authenticity and the putative freedom of fiction. I gesture to the history and contemporaneity of this phenomenon drawing on Ambedkar’s life narrative, Baburao Bagul’s When I Hid My Caste [1963], the African-American experience, and contemporary visual art that addresses the caste question (Rajyshri Goody’s Eat with Great Delight and Shilpa Gupta’s Altered Inheritances).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRepresentations of Precarity in South Asian Literature in English
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783031068171
ISBN (Print)9783031068164
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Caste
  • Dalit
  • Drag
  • Passing
  • Yashica Dutt

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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