Dalit: A Quest for Dignity


The struggle for dignity fundamentally shapes the dalit experience in Nepal. The caste system in Nepal worked by not only maintaining material inequality between the upper castes and lower castes but also by ritualizing honor and humiliation as everyday practice. The legacy of this brutality against dalits in Nepali social life can, even today, debilitate the official commands of law and the state to end caste discrimination. Against this history, dalits in Nepal struggle to break the identity of untouchability that the hegemony of upper castes thrusts on them.

Since the start of the democratic movement in Nepal, dalit activists have worked to create a counterpublic, a space from which the exclusion of dalits from public life can be challenged. The quest for basic human dignity is critical to the dalit counterpublic as it aims to overturn the very moral ground by which one understands the problem of caste. It shifts the focus from what dalits are deprived of to what dalits inherently possess. The dalit identity stands for the values of equality, respect, and social justice.

Presented here is a photographic anthology of the various meanings of dignity for Nepali dalits. These photographs bear testimony to the history of social, economic, political and intellectual disadvantage that dalits are up against. But they also show how dalits make resource of their own cultural pasts for a new and respectable identity.

This exhibition will run through Photo Kathmandu and be on view until 26 November 2016. Opening hours: 10 am to 5 pm.

Curator: Diwas Raja Kc

Research Assistants: Prizma Ghimire, Vincent Hasselbach

With contributions from: Aahuti; Bhola Paswan; Bill Hanson; Bill Lambeth; Bimal C. Sharma (INSEC); Bob Nichols; Carl Hosticka; Claire Burkert; Dave Carlson; Don Messerschmidt; Ekal Silwal; Gerard Toffin; Gil Donahue; Jagaran Media Center; Jakob Carlsen; Jim Fields; Jim Fisher; Joe Hapak; Larry Daloz; Laurie Ann Vasily; Mary Cameron; Mithai Devi Bishwakarma; Nancy Hatch; NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati; Padam Sundas; Richard Pfau; Sarita Pariyar; Swami Paramananda Saraswati; Tuomo Manninen

Supported by Danish Center for Culture and Development

Download the press kit with photos [.zip | 9.2 MB]