Dalit Archives is a network of community archives and public art interventions that seek to record histories of caste through primarily a Dalit-feminist perspective. Dalit Queer Project and Dalit Art Archive are two of its’ iterations that use the methods of digital humanities to tell the stories of Dalit communities, their art, lives, and queerness.
Dalit Queer Project's Aroh Akunth says, "Stories have been the oldest and staunchest allies of Dalits, where ideologies and governments have failed, our storytellers have preserved the most honest of our memories. Our stories, in our hands, have paved the way for a community of trillions to find its voice across borders, religions, and ethnolinguistic backgrounds. If you live in India, every fifth person comes from a Dalit family. @dalitqueerproject is a community-driven initiative that uses visual narratives to challenge what it means to be Dalit, and queer the ways in which our discourse has been set by Caste.” In Image: Dhrubo Jyoti, Akhil Kang, and Dhiren Borisa speaking at Delhi Pride 2015
"For this artwork we were inspired by South Asian postage that travels across borders, and flowers from all seasons that have been all over the world. They are symbolic of our stories that are universal, and not limited by geographies. We took inspiration from beasts associated with anti-caste movements and those for self-determination. We also reclaim iconography of gender-non-conforming Buddhist deities such as Gandharvas, which are often casted in Hindu epics along with other non-human entities that many Avarna communities are named after. Finally, we want to honour Babasaheb Ambedkar in whose vision many of us have found emancipation. And in whose legacy many of our struggles remain embedded": Dalit Queer Project. In Image: Dalit Queer Project, Artwork by Prateek Draik
"I have been thinking about 'Dalit-queer' in terms of many different journeys it has taken. I am always extremely anxious about gate-keeping, particularly in anti-caste movements and queer circles and that is precisely why I felt myself stepping away from Dalit-queer organizing. I strongly feel that people just don't understand the uniqueness of dalit-queers and dalit-queerness and either dismiss it completely or establish camaraderie with it in very offensive terms. I have seen dalit folks around me expressing their dalit-ness in incredible ways precisely because they functioned in and embodied feminist-queer messiness. I am, like many others, still figuring my relationship with the dalit identity and queering, and I am kinda okay to be confused about it!" says Akhil Kang a writer, lawyer and an anthropologist in the making. He hails from Jalandhar (Punjab) and calls New Delhi his current home. He is currently pursuing PhD in Social Anthropology from Cornell University.
"It was not until 2018 that people knew me as both queer and dalit. Growing up, for most part I was only Dalit to everyone around me. Later, when I starting opening up about being queer, I tried hiding my caste. I didn't want people to know. So for very long it felt like I can't afford to be both queer and Dalit. I am grateful to all the brilliant people I have met from the community over the last couple of years. I have never felt more content and vulnerable at the same time!", says Prusni Bandela (she/they), a Computer Science and Engineering student from Hyderabad. They identify as pansexual and genderqueer.
Rabi Raj is a primary school teacher and is involved with Trans organising in Balangir, Orissa. As a lower class, dalit queer person, they are regularly confronted by the everyday struggles of their communities in society. They believe that Education can play a transformative role in bringing change in the present situation of Dalits as well as queer peoples