Beyond the Rhetoric of Belonging: Arundhati Roy and the Dalit Perspective


  • Filippo Menozzi, Liverpool John Moores University, UK


This essay proposes a reflection on Arundhati Roy’s recent involvement in Dalit politics. In particular, it addresses the polemic letter to Roy presented by a group of Dalit intellectuals after the publication of a new edition of Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste (originally written in 1936), which includes an introductory essay by Roy. The critiques against Roy interrogate the right to take part in public life without being able to claim “entitlement†or “authenticity.†By discussing the debates over rights to speak and to “represent,†this essay offers a reflection on the meaning of a politics of emancipation that falls neither into identity politics nor into appropriating the voice of the marginalised. Instead, this essay proposes a reappraisal of the value of an “ethics of identification†through which outsiders can assume the standpoint of the oppressed and be able to tell experiences that they have not lived through. Beyond the rhetoric of belonging, the exchange between Roy and her Dalit critics suggests an ethics of identification that emphasises the continuing relevance of expressing social consciousness and communication across sites of struggle for social justice.


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Author Biography

Filippo Menozzi, Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Filippo Menozzi is Lecturer in English at Liverpool John Moores University, UK and holds a Ph.D. in Postcolonial Studies from the University of Kent (UK). His research interests are postcolonial and world literature, South Asian women’s writing, Marxism, postcolonial theory, migration narrative and the politics and poetics of ethnography. He is the author of Postcolonial Custodianship: Cultural and Literary Inheritance (Routledge, 2014) and has publications in Interventions, ARIEL, Wasafiri, the Journal of Postcolonial Writing and Open Democracy.




How to Cite

Menozzi, Liverpool John Moores University, UK, F. (2016). Beyond the Rhetoric of Belonging: Arundhati Roy and the Dalit Perspective. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 10(1), 66–80. Retrieved from



Section I: Articles on South Asian Women’s Writing