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Caste in Question: Identity or Hierarchy…
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Caste in Question: Identity or Hierarchy (Contributions to Indian…

by Dipankar Gupta

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0761933247, Hardcover)

This volume offers a new understanding of caste in contemporary India. It argues that the traditional view of caste - as a single hierarchy, with Brahmans at the top and the untouchable castes at the bottom - is no longer valid.

Based on fieldwork, the articles in this volume prove that ritual dominance does not determine the nature of caste interactions in any way. From politics to gender to economic interaction, the single, pure hierarchy is constantly being questioned and weakened. Castes that once had the status of shudras are now claiming, on occasions, a position superior to Brahmans and Kshatriyas; agrarian castes - such as Jats, Ahirs and Gujars - are at the political forefront, taking caste identities outside the village; the once passive untouchable castes are now aggressive and militant, and aware of their rights in a democratic society.

This exciting collection of original articles demonstrates how caste identity today challenges the outdated notion of a single, all-encompassing hierarchy, within which each caste co-exists peacefully.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 31 Aug 2015 08:12:10 -0400)

In Indian context. "This important volume provides an alternative perspective on caste. It demonstrates that the traditional view of caste -- as a single hierarchy, with Brahmins at the top and the untouchable castes at the bottom -- is no longer valid. From politics to gender to economic interaction, the contributors reveal how the erstwhile single, pure hierarchical order is constantly being questioned and weakened. The essays in this volume argue for a different conceptualisation of caste -- one that would take into account the need for caste assertion and dignity as well as notions of hierarchy. The contributors show that while pride in one's caste identity is an important feature of the caste order, this is not incompatible with contesting notions of hierarchy. Caste is now better seen in terms, first, of discrete identities and then in terms of multiple and contesting hierarchies. Using contemporary experiences, this exciting volume reflects on received wisdom concerning theories of caste and provides an entirely fresh perspective."--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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