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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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Whose Reality Counts?

Emergent Dalitbahujan Anthropologists

Reddi Sekhara Yalamala

India. Studying the Indian society involves living through its processes which also involves a close study of its multiple castes that have constructed myriad forms of suppression and hegemonic relationship s. ( Ilaiah 2009: xxvii ) Indian society is

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Re(casting) the Secular

Religion and Education in Kerala, India

Ritty Lukose

The anthropology of caste in India has conventionally rendered caste as a category of traditional religion, something that has been challenged by a historical anthropology of caste and its transformations under colonialism. Given this deconstruction of caste as tradition, how are we to approach its highly charged and contested presence within contemporary democratic politics in India? Examining the everyday institutional workings of secularism and democratic citizenship through the key institution of education, the article situates caste in relationship to secular modernity. In an analysis of the cultural politics of caste, religion, and secularism in a low-caste college in Kerala, India, that caters to the Ezhava caste community, the article argues for an understanding of caste as a fault line for the contested negotiations of tradition and modernity, the private and the public, the religious and the secular that mark contemporary cultural politics in India.

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Emancipation as social equality

Subaltern politics in contemporary India

Indrajit Roy

). As members of a community stigmatized as an “untouchable caste” by dominant groups, they face widespread discrimination ( Jaoul 2011 ). Against these oppressive social relationships, Musahar agricultural laborers seek to assert claims of social

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Anumpama Rao

Craig Jeffrey. Timepass: Youth, Class, and the Politics of Waiting. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010. vii + 221 pages.

Manuela Ciotti. Retro-Modern: Forging the Low-Caste Self. London, New York, and New Delhi: Routledge, 2010. xvii + 292 pages.

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Living in Harmony?

“Casteism”, Communalism, and Regionalism in Indian Social Science Textbooks

Basabi Khan Banerjee and Georg Stöber

Three societal lines of conflict, “casteism”, communalism, and regionalism, are regarded as severe challenges in present-day India. This article discusses and compares differences between presentations of these lines of conflict in six textbook series for social sciences prepared by the Indian states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, and by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in New Delhi. The variations in perspective, scope, and approach are related to changing educational approaches and to specific discourses of identity politics, which may be explained in terms of the impact of different positions adopted by states and the union towards the issues, and in terms of the discursive dominance of specific sociopolitical viewpoints.

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Classifying the Natives in Early Modern Ethnographies

Henry Lord's A Display of Two Foreign Sects in the East Indies (1630)

Amrita Sen and Jyotsna G. Singh

This article examines the politics and rhetorics of early modern ethnography via Henry Lord's famous treatise A Display of Two Foreign Sects in the East Indies (1630). Lord, a chaplain with the East India Company, attempted to classify Indian religious and caste identities—particularly those of the Banians—at a time when England's trading fortunes in India were still tenuous, though promising. Turning to the Shaster which he understands as the Banian Bible, Lord offers his readers a glimpse into Hindu mythologies—stories of genesis and the flood—which result in the creation of the four Indian castes. Understood in terms of humoral, psychological, and moral taxonomies these castes fall within emergent proto-racial hierarchies. Simultaneously, the journeys of the four brothers—Brammon, Cuttery, Shuddery, and Wyse—progenitors of their respective castes reenact familiar tropes of European travel writing combining the logic of profit with the “discovery” of hitherto unclaimed lands and erotic bodies.

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A Dignified Meal

Negotiated Spaces in India’s School Meal Program

Sony Pellissery, Sattwick Dey Biswas, and Biju Abraham

representative of each social group and identity. We interviewed five male and five female service users from each school: three of them belonged to Scheduled Castes (SC), and two belonged to Scheduled Tribes (ST), as institutionalized by the Constitution of

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Culture and Psychoanalysis

A Personal Journey

Sudhir Kakar

Starting with a reflection on the experience of his own analysis, conducted in German by a German analyst, the author explores the problems of psychoanalytic work carried out in a cross-cultural context. First, the Hindu world-view and its three major elements, moksha, dharma, and karma, are explained. The cultural belief in a person's inner limitations is contrasted with the Western mind-set of individual achievement. The high value that Hindu society places on connection as opposed to separation and how this affects notions of gender and the sense of one's body is discussed. The article then returns to the author's experiences in analysis and his conclusions about the nature of cultural transference and counter-transference and the optimal approach toward psychoanalysis with regard to differing cultural backgrounds.

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Alpa Shah and Sara Shneiderman

This is the introduction to a special section of Focaal that includes seven articles on the anthropology of affirmative action in South Asia. The section promotes the sustained, critical ethnographic analysis of affirmative action measures adopted to combat historical inequalities around the world. Turning our attention to the social field of affirmative action opens up new fronts in the anthropological effort to understand the state by carefully engaging the relationship between the formation and effects of policies for differentiated citizenship. We explore this relationship in the historical and contemporary context of South Asia, notably India and Nepal. We argue that affirmative action policies always transform society, but not always as expected. The relationship between political and socioeconomic inequality can be contradictory. Socioeconomic inequalities may persist or be refigured in new terms, as policies of affirmative action and their experiential effects are intimately linked to broader processes of economic liberalization and political transformation.