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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Subaltern resistance in Ciro Alegría’s El mundo es ancho y ajeno and Mahasweta Devi's Chotti Munda and his Arrow : a comparative study Mittal, Charu


This thesis explores subaltern resistance in two novels—Ciro Alegría’s El mundo es ancho y ajeno (1941) and Mahasweta Devi’s Chotti Munda and his Arrow (1980)—within a comparative framework. The subaltern groups under consideration are the Andean indigenous (in Peru), and the tribal, or adivasi, communities (in India). I examine the extent of these novels’ empowering representations of these groups, both of which are politically, economically, socially and culturally marginalised in their respective countries. To what extent do these texts challenge mainstream narratives of victimization, without ignoring the key issues that contribute to subaltern oppression? Using textual analysis and borrowing from ideas generated in the field of subaltern studies from Indian-origin intellectuals such as Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak as well as from Peruvian thinkers like José Carlos Mariátegui and Antonio Cornejo Polar, the study identifies and examines some broad thematic and formal points of contact between the two novels: land, nature, memory, writing and orality, education, and solidarity. My conclusions are varied, and attentive to the fact that these are communities in flux, as citizens impacted by and negotiating with modernity. I take care to avoid easy binaries. The texts I am discussing recuperate these communities as historical actors with agency with respect to the past, present and the future, in a postcolonial context. We find that these groups, to a greater or lesser degree in the two texts, adapt their way through change, showing that they are peoples with their own (continuing) history, and are able visionaries of their own futures. Finally, I also note that these texts remain relevant today, and my larger purpose is to imagine fresh possibilities for a south-south dialogue between Latin America and South Asia in the literary field.

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