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Dalit writers and critics argued in the 1980s and the 1990s that they were denied recognition in the Telugu public sphere on the basis of caste identities. Yet they now seek recognition in that sphere on the basis of their caste identities. Dalit claims to self-representation in the Telugu public sphere cannot be read just as claims to produce authentic literature. These are claims specifically made for recognition in the public sphere as poets, writers, scholars, and critics. The essay argues that the shift to the new notion and function of contemporary Dalit writing could be conceptualized by mapping larger structural changes, such as the emergence of the new social groups and the rise of Dalit writing, within the Telugu public sphere and through a reading of Dalit discourse, including Dalit poetry, as forms of debates and literary controversies. 

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