This essay examines Venkat Raman Singh Shyam and S. Anand’s Finding My Way (2016), a graphic auto/biography by a member of a tribal community (Shyam). It examines the auto/biography’s paratextual apparatus that constructs it as an artifactual object—a manuscripture—and thus transforms subaltern auto/biography into an exercise in aesthetic iconography. The co-presence of at least three voices makes the text a heteroglossic one, so that an individual’s voice is located in conjunction with historical and other voices. The essay then argues that the text generates a sequential or anamnetic authorship—a textual process wherein later authors, often over centuries, add to the ‘original’ author’s texts, and the texts often retain the original author’s name—by reinstating Gondi texts and singers, even as it offers Shyam a place in the genealogy. Finally, it proposes that the text’s intervention in the public memory of the Mahabharata generates a new form of the public sphere—one where an entirely new memory of the destruction of forests, the dwellings of the tribal persons, and the exploitation of natural resources is introduced into the ancient memory. The essay thus contributes to the thinking on graphic texts, even as it studies the narrative modes of subaltern lifewriting that generate a different public sphere in postcolonial readership.


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pp. 339-357
Launched on MUSE
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