The Question of Identity: An Analysis of Meena Kandasamy’s The Gypsy Goddess, and Urmila Pawar’s Motherwit

Main Article Content

Ibadur Rahman


The present article explores the complex trap of identity as depicted in Meena Kandasamy’s The Gypsy Goddess and Urmila Pawar’s Motherwit. It aims to elucidate the multifaceted dimensions of identity, specifically focusing on social, cultural, and gender aspects within the confines of marginalised communities in postcolonial India. The Gypsy Goddess, Kandasamy’s poignant narrative, is centred around the 1968 Kilvenmani massacre of landless Dalit laborers, while Motherwit, Pawar’s candid autobiographical account, examines the trials and tribulations of Dalit women’s lives in Maharashtra. By juxtaposing these two works, the article seeks to investigate the interplay between collective historical narratives and individual lived experiences, and their implications on the formation of identity. The article explicates how Kandasamy’s novel employs a kaleidoscope of narrative techniques to articulate the voice of the oppressed, while Pawar’s work explores the intersectionality of caste and gender through her personal journey. This paper employs various theoretical frameworks, such as postcolonial theory, feminist theory, and subaltern studies, to unravel the nuances of the characters’ identity crises and quests for self-actualization amidst sociopolitical upheaval. Moreover, the article scrutinizes the role of memory and storytelling as pivotal components in the construction and preservation of identity. The juxtaposition of Kandasamy’s historical fiction with Pawar’s autobiographical narrative enables the reader to discern the ways in which individual and collective identities are continuously shaped and reshaped through the prism of historical events and personal experiences. The article aims at illuminating the intricate pathways through which identity is negotiated within marginalized communities, and asserts the significance of literature as a potent tool in amplifying marginalized voices and fostering a more inclusive understanding of human identity.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Article Details

How to Cite
Ibadur Rahman. “The Question of Identity: An Analysis of Meena Kandasamy’s The Gypsy Goddess, and Urmila Pawar’s Motherwit”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 8, no. 3, June 2023, pp. 24-42, doi:10.53032/tcl.2023.8.3.04.
Research Articles


[Agyey] Vatsyayan, Hiranand Saccidanand. Language and identity, in Language and society in India: proceedings of a seminar, 135–144. Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 1969.

Abrams, M. H. and Harpham G. G. A Handbook of Literary Terms. Cengage Learning, 2009.

Agrawal, Purushottam. Reading Kabir in the times of identity. Hindi Language Discourse Writing 1,1). 2000, 218–225.

Alvesson, Mats. Postmodernism. Critical Quest, 2006.

Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Aston, N[athan] M. Dalit Literature and African-American Literature (Literature and Marginality). Prestige Books, 2001.

Athwale, S. A Quest for Gender Equality in Meena Kandasamy’s Touch. International Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature (IJSELL), 2014, 2(5), pp. 96-99.

Bakhtin, M. M., and Michael Holquist. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. University of Texas, 1981.

Beth Hunt, Sarah. Hindi Dalit literature and the politics of representation. Routledge, 2014. DOI:

Bheemaiah, J[etty]. Class and caste in literature: the fiction of Harriet B. Stowe and Mulk Raj Anand. New Delhi: Prestige Books.2005.

Brecht, Bertolt, and John Willett. Brecht on Theatre:The Development of an Aesthetic. Hill and Wang, 1964.

Brueck, Laura R. Writing Resistance: The Rhetorical Imagination of Hindi Dalit Literature. Columbia University Press, 2014. DOI:

Butalia, Urvashi. Her Story, I told You So [Review of The Gypsy Goddess]. Outlook India, 28 July 2018. Accessed 23 Jun 2021.

Chatterjee. Lopaurdra. Gender and Identity in Urmila Pawar’s Mother Wit. hppts:// Accessed 18August 2021.

Das, Sisir Kumar. History of Indian Literature 1911–1956: Struggle for Freedom: Triumph and Tragedy. Sahitya Akademi,1995.

Derrida, Jacques. Of Grammatology. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976.

Dharmvīr. Kabīr aur Rāmānaṃd: kiṃvadaṃtiyāṃ (Kabīr naī sadī meṃ 2). Nayī Dillī: Vānī prakāśan.2000.

Dhasal, Namdeo. Namdeo Dhasal: Poet of the Underworld (Poems 1972-2006). Introduction and Translation by Dilip Chitre. Navayana, 2007.

Dirks, Nicolas B. Castes of mind: colonialism and the making of modern India. Princeton University Press, 2001. DOI:

Featherstone, Mike. Postmodernism. Sage Publications, 1988.

Fernandes, Walter (ed.). The emerging Dalit identity: the re-assertion of the subalterns. Indian Social Institute,1996.

Gajarawala, Toral Jatin. Untouchable Fictions: Literary Realism and the Crisis of Caste. Fordham University Press, 2013. DOI:

Glory, A. Treatment of Women in Meena Kandasamy’s Touch. Indian Writing in English: A Subaltern Perspective, 2018, 18(3).

Guha, Sumit. Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present (Brill’s Indological Library 44). Brill, 2013. DOI:

Guptā, Ramanikā (ed.). Ādivāsī svar aur nayī śatābdī. Naī dillī: Ramanika Foundation.2002.

Guptā, Ramanikā (ed.). Kalam ko tīr hone do (Jhārkhaṃḍ ke ādivāsī hindī kavi). Naī dillī: Ramanika Foundation, 2015.

Guptā, Ramanikā. Nij ghare pardesī: (jhārkhaṃḍ ke ādivāsiyoṃ par kendrit). Naī dillī: Ramanika Foundation, 2004.

Guru, Gopal. ‘Egalitarianism and the Social Sciences in India’, in Gopal Guru, Sundar Sarukkai (ed), The Cracked Mirror: An Indian Debate on Experience and Theory, 9–28. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Herrero, Dolores. “Postmodernism and Politics in Meena Kandasamy’s The Gypsy Goddess”. The Journal of Commonwealth Literature. 54(1), Sage Publications, 2019. DOI: 10.1177/0021989417719118. pp. 70-83. DOI:

Hunter, Anna. The Holocaust as the Ultimate Trauma Narrative, in J. Roger Kurtz (ed.), Trauma and Literature (Cambridge Critical Concepts), 66–82. Cambridge University Press, 2018. DOI:

Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. Routledge,1988.

Jaaware, Aniket. “Eating, and Eating with, the Dalit: A Re-consideration touching upon Marathi Poetry”. Indian Poetry: Modernism and After. Edited by Satchidanandan. Sahitya Akademi, 2001. pp 262–293.

Jaffrelot, Christophe. Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability: Fighting the Indian Caste System. Columbia University Press, 2005.

Kandasamy, Meena. The Gypsy Goddess. 1st ed., Atlantic, 2014.

Kashyap, T. Feminist study in Meena Kandasamy’s novels ―when i hit you: or, a portrait of the writer as a young wife‖ and ―the gypsy goddess”. Research Journal of English Language and Literature (RJELAL), 2018, 6(3).

Kidd, J. “I Don’t Know if I am Idiotic — or Courageous”. Meena Kandasamy’s Interview. Independent, 5 April 2014. features/meena-kandasamy-interview-i-don-t-know-if-i-m-idiotic-or-courageous-9238644. html. Accessed 22 July 2021.

Kumar, R. Dalit Personal Narratives: Reading Caste, Nation and Identity. Orient Black Swan, 2010

Laxman, J. N. Reflection of caste, gender and patriarchy in meena kandasamy’s: touch. An International Multidisciplinary, 2(1).2016.

Limbale, Sharankumar. Towards an Aesthetics of Dalit Literature. Orient Blackswan, 2004.

Mahurkar, Vaishnavi. Urmila Pawar’s Memoirs: Weaving a Tale of Life on the Margins Accessed 18 August 2021.

Mani, Braj Ranjan. Debrahmanising history: Dominance and resistance in Indian society. Manohar.2005.

Mattam, A. J. Projection of New Woman in Meena Kandasamy’s Poems: An Analysis. International Journal of Research and Analytical Reviews (IJRAR), 2017, 4(2).

Mehra, Parmod Kumar. Literature and Social Change: Emerging Perspectives in Dalit Literature. Kalpaz, 2015.

Narang, Harish (ed.). Writing Black Writing Dalit: Essays in Black African and Dalit Indian Writings. Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2002.

Narayan, Badri. Documenting Dissent: Contesting Fables, Contested Memories and Dalit Political Discourse. Indian Institute of Advanced Study, 2001.

Narayan, Badri. Women Heroes and Dalit Assertion in North India: Culture, Identity and Politics (Cultural Subordination and the Dalit Challenges). SAGE, 2006.

Omvedt, Gail. Dalit Visions: The Anti-Caste Movement and the Construction of an Indian Identity (Tracts for the Times). Orient Longman [revised ed.], 2006.

Oxfam International. “India: Extreme Inequality in Numbers”. Oxfam Inequality Report for India, 2019. Oxfam, 2019. numbers.

Pawar, Urmila. Motherwit. Trans. Veena Deo. New Delhi: Zuban Publications, 2013.

Tanwar, Reicha ed. Women: Human Rights, Religion and Violence. Nirmal Book Agency, 1998.

Pillai, Akshaya. “Leaving Rules Out to Dry”. The Hindu, 24 May 2016. meena-kandasamy-book-review/article6471247. Accessed 23 August 2021.

Prasad, G.J.V. Writing India, Writing English: Literature, Language, Location. Routledge, 2011.

Rawat, Ramnarayan. Genealogies of the Dalit political: The transformation of Achhut from ‘Untouched’ to ‘Untouchable’ in early twentieth-century north India. The Indian Economic and Social History Review 52(3), 335–355. DOI:

Sawhney, Hirsh. “The Gypsy Goddess by Meena Kandasamy Review – Horrifying Events told with Exquisite Language”. The Guardian, May 31, 2014. review. Accessed (22 Aug 2021)

Sharma, Pradeep K. Dalit politics and literature. Shipra Publications, 2006.

Śukla, Rāmcandra. VS 2042 [AD 1985], Hindī sāhitya kā itihās (Nāgarīpracārinī graṃthmālā 53). Kāśī: Nāgarī pracārinsī sabhā [repr. of ca. 1937-1940].

Tiwari, Ravi Kant. “The Gypsy Goddess: A Study of the Politics Inherent in the Postmodern Dalit Novel in the Context of the Caste Atrocities during Kilvenmani Massacre of 1968.” SRJIS. 4,21. SRJIS, 2017. pp. 5078-5086.

Wessler, Heinz Werner. ‘Der Brachvogel bin ich’: Themen und Tendenzen gegenwärtiger Dalit-Literature in Hindi (Beiträge zur Indologie 49). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. 2014. DOI:

Whitehead, A. Trauma Fiction. Edinburgh University Press, 2004. DOI:

Yudianto, Resa. “Standpoint Theory”. Academia. Edu, 2012. ginalized_populations. Accessed 27 July 2021.

Zelliot, Eleanor; Mokashi-Punekar, Rohini (ed.). Untouchable Saints: An Indian Phenomenon. Manohar Publishers and Distributors, 2005.