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Practicing Caste makes a fundamental break from the tradition of caste studies, and highlights the limits of the historical, sociological, political, and moral categories through which it has usually been discussed. Engaging with the resources that phenomenology, structuralism, and poststructuralism offer to our thinking of the body, Jaaware illuminates the ethical relations surrounding caste, especially around its prescriptions concerning touch. The resulting insights offer new ways of thinking about sociality that are pertinent not only to India, but also to other cultures, and make thinking of “the common” possible across cultures.
This book offers both a radically new way of thinking about the fundamental issue of caste and a change in the grounds for discussion. It offers a wide-ranging argument for thinking about caste in terms of touchability and untouchability, viewing them as practices that are central to the fashioning of sociality and sociability. The argument is presented in a simple yet rigorous manner, making it accessible to both casual readers and experts.
Recommended reading for those interested in South Asia, Dalit Studies, Dalit Literature, Caste Studies, Indian traditions, social theory, and aspects of European philosophy in conversation with Indian thinkers, especially Jotirao Phule and B. R. Ambedkar.
Foreword by Anupama Rao
1. Touch and Its Elements and Kinds
2. Touch—An A Priori Approach
3. Touch in Its Social and Historical Aspects I
4. Touch in Its Social and Historical Aspects II
5. Touch and Texts: Ancient and Modern
6. (Un)touchability of Things and People
7. Society, Sociality, Sociability
8. Recapitulation with Variations