Marginalities in South Asian Literature: Text, Context and Theory

deadline for submissions: 
October 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Arunima Ray, Dr. Karuna Rajeev and Dr. Goutam Karmakar
contact email: 

                 Marginalities in South Asian Literature

                           Text, Context and Theory


Call for book chapters

Editors: Dr. Arunima Ray (Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi), Dr. Karuna Rajeev (Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi) and Dr. Goutam Karmakar (NRF Postdoctoral Fellow, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, Routledge Book Series Editor on South Asian Literature & Visiting Scholar Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society LMU München, Germany)


Contact email:



In the context of literature, the term marginality would encompass not only the issues related to the social, cultural, economic or geopolitical spaces that give rise to it but also the literature emerging from these contexts and the communities suffering and contesting it. Such literatures that address the experience of marginality create discourses and counter discourses. Our proposed book is therefore interested in the trio: text, context and theory. Defining the margin/marginality is complex. The “margin” is a space which is generally understood in relation to the centre which is powerful socially, politically, economically, culturally, geographically and linguistically. But the margin does not belong only to the realm of the fringe, it is a dynamic space. It is a space full of possibilities. While the margin may refer to people who live on the peripheries, whose voices are ignored, who may have no representation in mainstream societies, it can at the same time become a space of impending conflict, confrontation and tension because it can question the logic of the divide of the centre and periphery. The problem with the discourse of marginality, however, is that one may get trapped in it in a bid to simply overturn it. But the margin is much more than that. It may offer a sustained scenario of contestation for its rights and share of power, thereby paving ways for new possibilities. The representation of the marginal subject, therefore, is extremely interesting and complex, especially in literature, because literature has the possibility in it to move beyond this kind of binary dialectics and demonstrate the problematics involved in its interstitial, in-between, hybrid, spaces. Such complex readings will help us understand the structures of dominance, discrimination, hierarchy and marginality in a multifaceted way keeping in mind the politics of difference in a multipolar, multicultural world.

The evolution of capitalism after its beginnings in the Enlightenment period to a post-Enlightenment transformation in neoliberalism and globalization has now created marginalities on an expansive scale in more varied ways. While these enterprises, backed by political systems, have privileged certain regions and groups, they have also incapacitated others. Western standards and concepts of progress and development imposed on other societies and indigenous cultures have suppressed the local and the regional cultures in different neo-colonial ways. Again, there is another side to marginality in a society: one’s acceptance into various cultural communities is also determined by one’s birth and other determinations such as gender, race, caste, disability, religion, region and so on. Many of these categories decide whether one is an insider or an outsider in a particular nationspace. One has to negotiate between the dominance of the mainstream culture and the marginality of one’s own subculture. Marginality also brings about psychological uncertainties, having to move between discord and harmony, exclusion and inclusion. While this rivets our attention to the question of the marginal personality, more recent studies have addressed the problematic in terms of further specificities as to how marginality affects one’s access to resources, opportunities, knowledge, respect, rights, recognition and identity. Consequently, while talking of marginality, one cannot but talk of mobilizations and movements which challenge these oppressive systems and hegemonic structures, and thereby give rise to the question of agency and emancipatory discourses. We have kept in view this diverse socio-political terrain of marginality, and for our projected volume, we are interested in these multifarious aspects of the varied kinds of marginality as represented in the different genres of South Asian Literature. We are also interested in the studies on the Contexts and Theories relevant to the proposed area and problematics concerned.

 South Asian writing is populated by varied experiences of marginality specific to its history and localised realities. For instance, the figure of the muhajir, dalit, hijra or adivasi, some of whom find space in more universal social identity groups representing marginal experiences like race, religion, gender, caste, disability, region or tribe. Particular events in the history of the region like the Partition, Bhopal gas disaster, British rule and recent neoliberalisation-led economic developments have been moments where the tensions between dominant and other sub-groups have crafted the marginalised figure. Consequently, these historical contexts also alert us to the shifting terrain of the experience of marginality where the once dominant group can also become marginalised later, as is seen in the experience of colonisation for upper-caste identity. The ecological consequences of a shared history of multiple settlements and pursuit of economic development are evident in the change of the natural topography owing to deforestation and urbanisation. The negotiations between city dwellers, agrarian and forest-dwelling communities, are also therefore marked by framing of socio-political identity in the South Asian nation-state that creates and recreates the marginalised figure. 


The proposed anthology is therefore interested in contributions that would primarily analyse literary representations and cultural discourses in the following areas but not limited to these:

  • The experiences of social, political and economic marginalisation on the basis of caste, gender, disability, region, religion, tribe, ethnicity or race
  • LGBTQ+, sexuality and fluid identities
  • Marginal psychology, culture, hybridity, identity
  • Framing of the nation, transnation, border and narratives of exclusion and displacement and the framing of the citizen in the nation state
  • Marginalisation as a communal experience and the dynamics between individual, community and society
  • Economic development in the postcolonial neoliberal nation state and the accompanying ecological fallout
  • Ecology and environmental justice and the gendered perspective of ecology
  • Poverty as a marker of the vulnerability and precarity of marginalised identity
  • The dialectics of voice and representation in narratives of marginalisation
  • The subversion of canonical and aesthetic standards of literary stylistics in texts that represent the experience of marginalised identities.


Key information for prospective authors:

  1. Abstract with a title and keywords: 250-300 words
  2. Word limit of full papers including citations: 6000- 8000 words
  3. Style of citation: MLA 9th  edition
  4. Email your submission to:


*The proposed anthology will be published by a reputed publisher

Deadline for abstract submissions: October 30, 2023

Abstract selection notification:   November 30, 2023

Deadline for full paper submission: January 30, 2024


Dr. Arunima Ray

Associate Professor

Department of English

Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi

New Delhi

Dr. Karuna Rajeev

Assistant Professor

Department of English

Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi

New Delhi

Dr. Goutam Karmakar

NRF Postdoctoral Fellow

University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Routledge Book Series Editor on South Asian Literature


Visiting Scholar

Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society

LMU München, Germany