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"They have it in their stomachs but they can't vomit it up"

Dalits, reservations, and "caste feeling" in rural Andhra Pradesh

Clarinda Still

This article examines the social effects of India's affirmative action policy (“reservations“) on the relationship between dalits and the dominant castes. Drawing on fieldwork in rural southern India, this article looks at the way people use their knowledge of reservations (however imperfect) to form opinions that shape behavior in everyday life. I argue that this policy is used to vindicate upper-caste antipathy toward dalits and has become an important part of new discriminatory attitudes. While discrimination on the basis of pollution has become muted, in its place reservations (combined with ideas about habits, morality, and cleanliness) have become the principal idiom through which the dominant openly express resentment toward dalits. In this sense, the language of reservations enables and legitimates an upsurge of anti-dalit feeling. This leads us to consider whether the positive effects of the policy can effectively counteract the caste antagonism caused by it in everyday life.

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Manuela Ciotti

This article explores histories of social separation, impermanent encounters, and lasting political alliances between Dalit (“untouchable”) Chamar male youth and members of the upper-caste Brahman community in a village in eastern Uttar Pradesh, North India. The entry of young Chamar people into educational institutions followed by political mobilization and, for some, the transition into employment, has led them to appropriate spaces often beyond the purview of previous generations. Against the backdrop of Chamar histories as agricultural laborers, powerless political subjects, and actors of religious marginality, new forms of masculinity, sociality, and class formation have come into being. The article focuses on young Chamar men’s involvement in village politics, particularly during the 2005 local elections. It is argued that village politics—rather than inter-caste friendships, which remain short-lived as a result of caste discrimination—has engendered an arena of sociality where caste-driven interest produce more durable social links between young low-caste men and members of the upper-caste community. As India’s political history illustrates, the episode of electoral politics analyzed in this article brings together differently situated communities within the nation, highlighting how the unresolved question of caste discrimination conflates with the compulsion to political power. If young Chamar men are the new protagonists in this history, their role is the outcome of broader changes in the consciousness around political participation and the opening up of democratic possibilities for minority populations in a postcolonial setting.

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Crisis and retirement

Alienation in Kerala's tea belt

Jayaseelan Raj

workers over time to cease considering themselves displaced from Tamil Nadu as a consequence of the indenture system. Returning to their native villages would mean reengaging into caste discriminations from which their ancestors had attempted to escape

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Emancipation as social equality

Subaltern politics in contemporary India

Indrajit Roy

them. Rather, it was because Musahars (and Kevats and Santhals) continued to focus on the directly observable aspects of the oppression they faced. Such a focus led Musahars to believe that the caste discrimination to which they were subjected was

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Citizenship in religious clothing?

Navayana Buddhism and Dalit emancipation in late 1990s Uttar Pradesh

Nicolas Jaoul

restriction was introduced in the Constitution by Hindu conservatives to prevent conversion of Dalits. As a consequence, conversion meant giving up benefits in terms of education, public jobs, reserved seats in elected assemblies, and protection against caste