Caste is the key category in contemporary Indian social thinking. Discussed and analysed by historians, sociologists, and political scientists, it has produced scholarly explorations and polemical controversies in equal measure. The historical literature on caste from colonial times to the present is vast.
This anthology picks out some of the best essays on the subject in order to explore specific aspects of modern caste: how the issue of caste was understood in colonial times, how it was re-created under conditions of modernity, and how various castes came to relate to one another and to themselves in new ways. The essays also engage in debates that were first raised in these fields. Dumont’s notions about purity and power are questioned, while fresh perspectives are offered on jajmani.
For a long time, historians of modern South Asia have been trying to ascertain how far caste was invented, exaggerated, colluded with, and opposed. These two volumes provide the most essential and thought-provoking pieces on the subject.
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