Towards a postcolonial critical literacy: Bhimayana and the Indian graphic novel
Author: Nayar, Pramod K.
Source: Studies in South Asian Film & Media, Volume 3, Number 1, March 2012 , pp. 3-21(19)
Abstract: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.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: The University of Hyderabad
Publication date: March 1, 2012
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