Towards a postcolonial critical literacy: Bhimayana and the Indian graphic novel

Nayar, Pramod K.
January 2011
Studies in South Asian Film & Media;Jan2011, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p3
Academic Journal
This article argues that the graphic novel of BR Ambedkar's life, Bhimayana, generates a postcolonial critical literacy. Critical literacy forces the reader to link personal experiences with socio-historical and institutional power relations, and alerts us to reflect on issues of otherness in the text. In the first section, the article argues that Bhimayana's innovations of form and content, and its extensive metaphorization and multiple registers serve to combine a personal story with the history of a condition - of caste-based discrimination. In the second section of the article, I focus on the critical literacy the text initiates and demands of its readers. I suggest that the work fits into an already existing interocular (where the visual intersects with images from other visual media, such as television) field, and draws upon a popular register. It is this everyday register of comics - commonplace in the form of the comic strips in newspapers and periodicals but also as comic books - that enables Bhimayana to debate social issues in a medium that is far removed from other forms and genres such as newspaper reportage, commentaries and Amnesty reports where human rights issues are mostly addressed. The text is therefore significant in that it situates debates about caste and human rights in the popular cultural realm. A postcolonial critical literacy is the demand made on the reader to recognize, in this supposedly non-serious medium, a social problem.


Related Articles

  • Questions of Reading and Readership of Pictorial Texts: The Case of Bhimayana, a Pictorial Biography of Dr. Ambedkar. Oza, Vasvi // Journal of Writing in Creative Practice;Nov2011, Vol. 4 Issue 3, p351 

    Bhimayana (2010) is a pictorial biography of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar (1891-1956), a very important Indian leader whose struggles and writings about uprooting the caste system from the Indian society have been of crucial relevance for contemporary struggles by dalits and adivasis (tribals) in...

  • THE INHUMAN PRACTICE OF MANUAL SCAVENGING IN INDIA -- A REVIEW. Halu, Basavarajeshwari // Golden Research Thoughts;Jun2014, Vol. 3 Issue 12, p1 

    For in India a man is not scavenger because of his work. He is a scavenger because of his birth, irrespective of the question whether he does scavenging or not" Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Despite laws abolishing the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, over a million of dalits in 'superpower India' are...

  • Bhim Yatra. Andolan, Safai Karamchari // Economic & Political Weekly;1/2/2016, Vol. 51 Issue 1, p4 

    The article offers tribute to the 125th birth anniversary of the Indian economist and jurist Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar known as Babasaheb, who had campaigned against social discrimination in India. It highlights the efforts of Babasaheb to achieve the right to life, liberty and equality in the...

  • New York Consulate Marks Ambedka's Birth Anniversary.  // News India Times;4/26/2013, Vol. 44 Issue 17, p11 

    This article announces the celebration of the 122nd birthday anniversary of B. R. Ambedkar by the Consulate General of India in New York at the consulate premises on April 14, 2013.

  • Huge Furore over Ambedkar Cartoon in Textbook.  // India -- West;5/18/2012, Vol. 37 Issue 26, pA35 

    The article presents information on furore over a cartoon of Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar in a school textbook in India.

  • ANDHRA PRADESH: Ambedkar Statue Desecrated Again.  // India -- West;2/3/2012, Vol. 37 Issue 11, pA44 

    The article reports on desecration of a statue of social reformer B. R. Ambedkar in Andhra Pradesh, India's East Godavari region triggering protests.

  • Incredible Indian.  // New Statesman;4/30/2012, Vol. 141 Issue 5103, p63 

    A photograph is presented of a worker cleaning a portrait of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, an Indian political leader and activist, on April 13, 2012 in Hyderabad, India.

  • USE OF INTERNET BY RESEARCH SCHOLARS OF SOCIAL SCIENCE DEPARTMENTS OF DR. BABASAHEB AMBEDKAR MARATHWADA UNIVERSITY, AURANGABAD. Khaparde, Vaishali // International Journal of Humanities & Social Science;Aug2011, Vol. 1 Issue 10, p153 

    The Study examines use of the Internet of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad. A well structured questionnaire was distributed among the 371 research scholars of social science departments in university under study. Findings of this study show that internet is being heavily...

  • The house of dark arts.  // India Today;5/28/2012, p24 

    The article focuses on the controversy that surrounds the political art created by political cartoonist Shankar. He has depicted Indian orator and editor Bhimrao Ramji "Babasaheb" Ambedkar in a drawing that shows the slow progression of Indian political life. A government minister has promised...


Read the Article


Sign out of this library

Other Topics