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Castes of Mind : Colonialism and the Making of Modern India - Nicholas B. Dirks

Castes of Mind

Colonialism and the Making of Modern India

Paperback Published: 7th October 2001
ISBN: 9780691088952
Number Of Pages: 372

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When thinking of India, it is hard not to think of caste. In academic and common parlance alike, caste has become a central symbol for India, marking it as fundamentally different from other places while expressing its essence. Nicholas Dirks argues that caste is, in fact, neither an unchanged survival of ancient India nor a single system that reflects a core cultural value. Rather than a basic expression of Indian tradition, caste is a modern phenomenon--the product of a concrete historical encounter between India and British colonial rule. Dirks does not contend that caste was invented by the British. But under British domination caste did become a single term capable of naming and above all subsuming India's diverse forms of social identity and organization.

Dirks traces the career of caste from the medieval kingdoms of southern India to the textual traces of early colonial archives; from the commentaries of an eighteenth-century Jesuit to the enumerative obsessions of the late-nineteenth-century census; from the ethnographic writings of colonial administrators to those of twentieth-century Indian scholars seeking to rescue ethnography from its colonial legacy. The book also surveys the rise of caste politics in the twentieth century, focusing in particular on the emergence of caste-based movements that have threatened nationalist consensus.

"Castes of Mind" is an ambitious book, written by an accomplished scholar with a rare mastery of centuries of Indian history and anthropology. It uses the idea of caste as the basis for a magisterial history of modern India. And in making a powerful case that the colonial past continues to haunt the Indian present, it makes an important contribution to current postcolonial theory and scholarship on contemporary Indian politics.

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Abbreviationsp. xv
The "Invention" of Castep. 1
Introduction: The Modernity of Castep. 3
Homo Hierarchicus: The Origins of an Ideap. 19
The Ethnographic Statep. 43
Colonization of the Archivep. 61
The Original Caste: Social Identity in the Old Regimep. 63
The Textualization of Tradition: Biography of an Archivep. 81
The Imperial Archive: Colonial Knowledge and Colonial Rulep. 107
The Ethnographic Statep. 125
The Conversion of Castep. 127
The Policing of Tradition: Colonial Anthropology and the Invention of Customp. 149
The Body of Caste: Anthropology and the Criminalization of Castep. 173
The Enumeration of Caste: Anthropology as Colonial Rulep. 198
Recasting India: Caste, Community, and Politicsp. 229
Toward a Nationalist Sociology of India: Nationalism and Brahmanismp. 231
The Reformation of Caste: Periyar, Ambedkar, and Gandhip. 255
Caste Politics and the Politics of Castep. 275
Conclusion: Caste and the Postcolonial Predicamentp. 297
Coda: The Burden of the Past: On Colonialism and the Writing of Historyp. 303
Notesp. 317
Indexp. 359
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691088952
ISBN-10: 0691088950
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 372
Published: 7th October 2001
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.23 x 14.61  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.6