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The Light of KnowledgeLiteracy Activism and the Politics of Writing in South India$
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Francis Cody

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452024

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452024.001.0001

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Of Light, Literacy, and Knowledge in the Tamil Countryside

(p.1) Introduction
The Light of Knowledge

Francis Cody

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. The Arivoli Iyakkam, the “Light of Knowledge,” or “Enlightenment,” is a social movement in rural India which sought to make political agents of rural women and to disseminate scientific knowledge through the spread of written language. From 1990 until the movement ended in 2009, the Arivoli Iyakkam mobilized huge numbers of people from across the Tamil countryside. This book focuses on the contradictions in the project of Enlightenment that emerged over the course of two decades in rural Tamil Nadu. In their endeavors to remake the Tamil countryside through literacy activism, workers in the movement found that their own understanding of the politics of writing and enlightenment was often transformed in the encounter with deeply rooted practices surrounding entirely different notions of language and imaginations of social order.

Keywords:   rural India, Indian women, Arivoli Iyakkam, enlightenment, social movement, literacy, Tamil Nadu

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