Yogesh Wanjari: Translating Dalit literature so that Ambedkarite struggle can be looked through its originality

By Shiva Thorat, TwoCircles.net

Yogesh Wanjari, an M.Phil Student of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai recently translated the book of J V Pawar ‘Ambedkarite Movement After Ambedkar’ from Marathi to English. Although the book has always had a rich content, but hadn’t been available until now to the non-Marathi people. So, Wanjari decided to get the book published with the help of Panther’s Paw Publication Mumbai who are going to publish similar untold books, along with novels and poetry by Dalits.

Yogesh Wajnari

Veteran activists like J V Pawar, founder member of Dalit Panther, Bheemarao Ambedkar (Grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar) and Avinash Dolas were present at the release of the book and congratulated Wajnari for his efforts.

TCN : Why do you translate? What is your agenda? How do you look at the politics of translation?

Yogesh : If we look at the history of English translations of Dalit/Ambedkarite Literature from Maharashtra, then one thing we can notice that almost all translations whether they are of poetry, novels, or literary pieces so far have done by Brahmin agencies. What does it mean? What does this fact translate into? First of all, we can derive the conclusion that in the domain of politics of English language in India, Brahmins have kept their hegemony intact and it is through their hegemonic frameworks or let’s say epistemology, Dalit literature had to present itself into the readers of English.

As I often observed in my engagement with Dalit/Ambedkarite writers and which is summed up as their critique of their publishers, it is also true that most of the economic advantages sought from publishing English translations of Dalit literature, have contributed into wealth creation of Brahmins and Upper caste agencies who make the chain of ‘Publisher and Translators’.

In this process, Dalit/Ambedkarite writers were always undermined right after the translation of their work. It is the new phenomena and it needs an in-depth study so that the Brahmin coercive hegemony in this sector can be challenged. To challenge their hegemony and to intervene into this phenomena which has been engaged into distorting the historical self, perceptions of Dalits and their world views by working on selective narratives which are focused more upon the principle of ‘providing entertainment’ to the readers through its aesthetic values.

Also, Brahminical agencies are selectively neglecting the theoretical narratives emerged from Dalit/Ambedkarite consciousness by not translating it. My decision to translate is also emerged from the objective in which I intend to explore such theoretical and scientific works of our writers and translate them for the readers of English language so that Dalits lives or Ambedkarite struggle can be looked through its originality.

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