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This essays considers the centrality of the iconic twentieth-century Hindi author Munshi Premchand in an emerging Dalit literary critical discourse. It investigates how Premchand has emerged as a singularly powerful cultural symbol around which Dalit literary and political identities are constituted. It is primarily through a critique of Premchand’s writing that Dalit writers and critics seek to intervene in the mainstream Hindi literary sphere. This essay also shows how these literary-critical debates contextualize ongoing processes of renegotiation of identity and representation in the literary spheres of the Dalit public, specifically related to gender. This brief analysis of the rhetoric of critical counterdiscourses in the Hindi Dalit literary sphere reminds us that caste, class, and gendered identities are regularly repositioned by advocates for the competing interests of diverse social collectivities.

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