The Prisons We Broke – Baby Kamble, Tr. Maya Pandit


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Writing on the lives of the Mahars of Maharashtra, Baby Kamble reclaims memory to locate Mahar society before the impact of Babasaheb Ambedkar, and tells a powerful tale of redemption wrought by a fiery brand of individual and collective self-awareness. The Prisons We Broke is a graphic revelation of the inner world of Mahars, and the oppressive caste and patriarchal tenets of Indian society—but nowhere does the writing descend into self-pity. Kamble vividly and unapologetically brings to life the rituals and superstitions, the joys and sorrows, the hard lives and the hardier women of the Maharwada. Breaking the bounds of personal narrative, it is at once a sociological treatise, a historical and political record, a feminist critique, a protest against brahminical Hinduism, and the memoir of a cursed people.

Jina Amucha, the original first published as a book in 1986, redefined autobiographical writing in Marathi, not only in terms of form and narration, but also in the selfhood and subjectivities articulated. The first autobiography by a Dalit woman in Marathi, Maya Pandit’s masterful English translation made it available to a wider readership for the first time in 2008. This second edition includes translations of Baby Kamble’s Prefaces to the first and second edition of Jina Amucha.


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