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Fourth world literature for the voiceless of the third world: Challenges and possibilities
The term 'Fourth World' in the context of this conference is not to be confined to the indigenous people, as the term 'nation' is to be confused with the 'sovereign country'. State emphasizes the political unity while nation is a consciousness of unity due to psychological or spiritual feeling. There could be multiple nations in the same geographical and sovereign territory called 'country'. The fourth world covers all ethnic, racial, caste, linguistic, gender, even socio-political and economic marginal. Many universities including Srimata Vaishno Devi University are coming up with International Conferences on Fourth World Literature for deliberation on the prospects and challenges. Earlier Pune Higher Education Research Society organised conferences on fourth world literature.

Deliberations on fourth world literature usher in a new horizon for literature. There are possibilities to explore the fourth world even in the third and the first world. In 1967, Mbuto Milando while in a conversation with George Manuel of Canada used the term, 'fourth world' and defined it "when native people come into their own on the basis of their own cultures and traditions that will be the fourth world."

But in this conference, the horizons earmarked are much larger and it is inclusive of the larger sections of the marginalized including the refugees and immigrants or transgender peoples of the world besides the native and the aborigins. Thus the fourth world as an Indian reality is envisaged. It is not a challenge against the third or the first world, but a protest against an age old attitude ingrained in the society about the marginalized of the fourth world.

With the advent of globalization, it would be a blunder to drag all the oppressed sections under the same portmanteau term. Even feminism has multiple offshoots nowadays. Given the above deliberation of the indigenous nations one could now say that women are 'triply colonized' (to take humble liberty with Gayatri Spivak's term doubly colonized).

Besides literature and culture, deliberation can occur  upon the other aspects of the fourth world which demand some attention from the disciplines like Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies, Black Studies, Dalit and Tribal Studies, Women's Studies, Queer Studies, Post-colonial Studies, Class Relations, Economics, International Relations, Anthropology, Area Studies, Sociology, Linguistics etc.

Even in the First world this sub population can live but with the living standards of those of the third world and below that. Deliberate marginalization of the sub population in a state is discussed which has made the malady worse.The non-recognition and exclusion of the vast populace, Romani People, Sami, Assyrian, Kurds, and other indigenous of the first nations are to be included in the fourth world. Aboriginal Australians, Native Hawaiians, Maori of New Zealand or the Jaroas of Andamans should be given their own room in literature.

It is thus, 're-chirstening of literature' after post colonialism, a new terminology which is inclusive and an umbrella term that the International Conference of Pune highlighted. The quest for a new space in literature for the marginalised gains a new momentum with the participants actively engaged in a fruitful discussion on fourth world literature.

The laxmanrekha of literature created by the non–marginalised and by the privileged class is to be crossed globally in literature. It is like a deconstruction of the third and first world narratives which smother differences and plurality. Thus the traditional myths of literature are demolished in the perpetual engagement of the researchers in the quest for a space of the Marginalised. It is something like Archimedes's demand: " "Give me a place to stand on and I will move the Earth." The Conference was a grand success and will surely usher in a new era of thinking and writing both as research and creativity.

The Society intends to play a role of a catalyst to enable researchers in different regions and disciplines to exchange information, share discussions on professional and theoretical issues, and initiate and co-ordinate research. Purely committed to the cause of academics in a 'top-down pattern', the prime goal of the society is to encourage and foster research by providing a platform to showcase the innate research aptitude of the academician. Promoting academic research and scholarship into language and literature, Humanities, Basic Sciences, Technology and Management streams, the society is determined to bring about a scholarly get-together of the intellectuals. 

The term 'Fourth World', albeit being in its early formative stage is designated to mean one third of the world's population whose descendants are forcefully incorporated into states yet maintain a distinct political culture that predates and continues to resist encroachment of the recognized states and are ceaselessly engaged in a struggle to gain a fair amount of sovereignty over their national homelands. On account of persistent global patterns of ethnocide and ecocide perpetrated against these ancient but internationally unrecognized nations, the Fourth World has received some fresh attention. 

As an inevitable by-product of post World -War upheavals, the core of the world power system split into two large geo-political blocs of associated interests. A Euro-American bloc of the states with political and economic ties came to be called the first world to which Japan joined the bandwagon later. The Second World, the other geopolitical bloc comprised the communist-socialist states including the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, North Vietnam and until recently, Eastern Europe. However, few newly decolonized states that were characterized by economic dependency and debt-burden, preferred to sit on a fence by not aligning with either bloc of the geopolitical power were christened the "Third World."

The people of ancient nations that lived beyond modern industrial norm and abounded in hunter gatherers, nomadic, pastoral and farmers constitute the fourth world. The inhabitants of the fourth world reside both in urban and rural areas, but they are structurally irrelevant in the society as they neither produce nor consume what is considered important in a globalised and technologically connected world.

The fourth world includes a whole range of the tribal and peasant societies that share a number of attributes, including a low level of political and economic integration in the state system, an inferior political status, and an underprivileged economic position. The dwellers of the fourth world may virtually stay in the first world but cannot afford the access to the first world standards of living.

Such nations are also ironically called 'hidden nations' pointing a needle of reproach to the states cultural blindness or its insulation against reality. The laws set up by the colonizing culture assimilate these groups into the dominant culture in such a manner that their cultural existence is completely obliterated. Thus the indigenous people may geographically be situated within the first world nations but they are held as cultural war prisoners.

Indigenous nations and their territories are conceived, in economic terms, as untapped natural sources. The natives instinctively consider themselves prioritized in terms of access to the resources of that territory. This encourages the xenophobic sentiment among them. The States' capitalistic will to lay forceful hand on these territories for mining has provoked the fierce resistance among them. For instance the movement like Naxalism could be notable in this regard.

Since 1979, think-tanks such as the 'Centre for World Indigenous Studies' have used the term in defining the relationships between the ancient, tribal, and non-industrial nations and modern industrialized nation-states. With the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, communication and organization amongst the fourth world people have accelerated in the form of international treaties between the aboriginal nations for the purposes of trade, travel, and security.

The term fourth world first came into wide use in 1974 with the publication of George Manuel's The Fourth World: An Indian Reality. Manuel thinks of the fourth world as the"indigenous people descended from a country's aboriginal population and who today are completely or partly deprived of the right to their own territories and its riches." This definition of the fourth world is far too broad and inclusive to be useful in explaining the historical expansion of the states and the state-nation conflict it engendered. Clearly, the fourth world by either definition is an outcome of a struggle between the forces of centralization and decentralization. 

Although Fourth World is seemingly restricted to mean a stateless, poor and marginal nations, it also embraces millions of the inhabitants of all small nations, groups working for their autonomy and independence at all levels from the neighbourhood to the nation, minority groups whether ethnic, linguistic, cultural or religious, and those in the fields of peace action, ecology, economics, energy resources, women's liberation, and the whole spectrum of the alternative movement that are struggling against the gigantism of the institutions of today's mass societies and for a human scale and a non-centralized, multifarious, power-dispersed world order. The indigenous social movements could be seen as site of power for such nations are everywhere demanding the right to self-determination. 

Fourth World Literature is a space for understanding the shared cultural experiences of the people who were once the majority of the population and who have, through colonial occupation, been the victims of genocide, both cultural and physical that reduced their numbers so that they are now in the minority in colonially occupied land. Fourth World Literature is full expression of man's ruthless materialism and imperialistic will. Owing to its dialectic variation and terminological variances, Fourth World Literature can be best understood when considered through a socio-linguistic lens because such a lens connects indigenous cultures to their language and oral traditions.

Many universities and research institutions are now organising conferences on fourth world literature. Earliest one such conference was organised by Higher Education Research Studies Pune in 2014.  Now Srimata Vaishno Devi university of  Jammu is going to organise the International Conference in Dec,2015.These conferences and seminars on fourth world literature will enrich the prospects and explore the ways how to challenges posed by the mainstream literature to the fourth world literature globally. We may focus here how the deliberations occurred on Fourth World Literature in the first conference organised in Pune.

These conferences can focus on varied aspects as they could rationalize reality of the ongoing marginalization of the fourth world nations by the imperial power under the banner of 'modernization', 'progress' and 'development'. It intends to initiate the investigation that accounts for both the process of integration on global scale and the process of self-identification on the local indigenous level. The distinct literary representation of the indigenous people is quite rare.

Rather, it becomes their appropriation in the fold of mainstream culture eliminating their uniqueness. The conference not only encourages but makes a strong plea for voicing the silenced ethnic marginal. The Mainstream writers' literary representation of these ethnic minority groups often tends to be a romanticization, objectification or mere stereotyping. Hence there is an urgent need of a separate niche of the Fourth World Literature to be carved on the literary canon.

It was an extraordinary morning for Pune with the sun shining gloriously and the deliberations on a new area of literature was announced in the air-conditioned auditorium of Shiv Chattrapati Sports Complex which was then resonant with the vibrant voice of Dr. John Thieme of East Anglia University U.K. who in his keynote address on fourth world literature advocated for the voice to those who went voiceless for centuries.

The Fourth World exists from time memorial since the first world, the second world and the third world but it had no room of its own in mainstream literature. So it was not an invention of a new world, it was a discovery. Dr. Sudhir Nikam , the Organising Secretary of this historic event for academics and researchers from nearly all parts of India and abroad with nearly 345 delegates actively participating here in the two day International Conference on Fourth World Literature on Sept 12-13 in his welcome address focused on the need for fourth world literature.

Like Pied Piper of Hamlin for the researchers, he mesmerized all by his clarion call for exploring the Fourth World literature as an Indian reality. Dr. John Thieme ,Professor of the School of Literature and Creative Writing in the University of East Anglia , Norwich , UK set the ball rolling for deeper deliberation by  referring to the texts of the Fourth World Literature.

In her Welcome address Dr. Madhavi Nikam, Convenor of the Conference articulated perspectives and issues of the fourth world literature and detailed the programme of the conference and other arrangements of food and accommodation. 345 papers will be presented in the two days in ten rooms of the Dnyansagar Institute of Management and Research near the Sports Complex.

In his presidential address of the inaugural session, Dr. D.R.More, the mentor behind the conference outlined in lucid language the challenges and promises of fourth world literature. He said,'The fourth world existed from time immemorial and now there rises the need for rehabilitation of the stateless global society in literature. It is no less an Indian reality and must be explored fully. Dr. Jaydipsinh Dodiya, Dean of Arts Sausrashtra University warned in his wonderful lecture short but precise one, that there is no room for over simplification to take this conference just another attempt at initiating research.

It is a new world unexplored and it requires imagination and creativity to do research on them. The inaugural session starts with the lighting of lamp when 345 delegates like the pilgrims of Chaucer's Tales committed themselves for the long journey ahead to the fourth world all over the globe and the clarion call is given by Dr.Sudhir Nikam from the Conference organized by Higher Education and Research Society.

In the plenary session, Dr.Ratan Bhattacharjee, Chairperson, PG Dept of English,Dum Dum Motijheel College, Dr Dnyanesh Naik Chairperson Board of Studies in English RTM Nagpur University, Dr. Jagdish Joshi, Director, UGC Academic Staff College Gujarat University, Dr. Arjun Jadhav Associate Professor, Fergusson College and Dr. A.P. Khairnar, Chairperson Board of Studies in English North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon chaired the session and the papers were presented by Dr. Chetan Deshmane, Associate Professor HPT PG College, Dr. Vijay Sheshadri, Professor Dept of English, University of Mysore, Dr. Sharad Shrivastava, Professor Mohanlal Sukhadia University Udaipur, and Dr. Neerja Gupta Principal, Bhavan's Arts and Commerce College, Ahmadabad, all of whom focused on the various dimensions the fourth world literature.

Dr. G Thirupathi, Professor of CIEFL Hyderabad gave the valedictory speech with Dr. Abdullah Kadir Ayinde, HOD, Yobe State University, Nigeria as the chief guest, Dr. A. P. Khairnar gave vote of thanks.


The conference was qualitatively different from other earlier conferences on literature as the conference renders a humble platform for deliberation upon the state policies and human endeavours to bridge the digital divide between the fourth world and rest of the globe. It also problematizes the son-of-the-soil dynamics as one third of the ethnic civil wars could be labeled son-of-the-soil conflicts. More deliberations are expected from the International Conference to be held in Dec 2015 in Srimata Vaishno Devi University, Jammu.

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