The solidarity between socially marginalized groups in India is often compromised, directly or indirectly, by their own internecine complicity with structures and histories of systematic social violence. We look at this problem through a close analysis of the graphic novel Bhimayana, which brings together key events from the life of B. R. Ambedkar—the architect of the Indian Constitution who was born into the “untouchable” Mahar caste—and the artwork of the Gond tribal artists Durgabai and Subhash Vyam. While there is considerable affinity in terms of socioeconomic disadvantages between the tribes and the lower castes of India, these affinities are strained by contradictions that problematize the principle of solidarity. We argue that the intrusion of complicity and guilt into performances of solidarity finally serves to strengthen the political empowerment of these groups by making it possible to acknowledge their implication in the history of social harm.

You do not currently have access to this content.