Contested Hierarchies, Persisting Influence: Caste and Power in Twenty-first Century India
Surinder S. Jodhka and James Manor (Eds.)
216 x 280 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Why another book on caste? Hasn’t enough research been conducted on the subject; and doesn’t writing on or about caste help keep it alive?

The continued significance of caste in India’s public life is said to be because of the reservation policy or because of electoral politics, with caste being viewed as a convenient mode of securing a stable vote bank. Contested Hierarchies, Persisting Influence shows, however, that caste survives beyond electoral politics and quotas.

Caste-based divisions continue to matter not only in the village, but also in modern-day urban life, business, institutions of higher education, and many other spheres of contemporary social practice.

The chapters in this book, written by some of the leading scholars of Indian society and based on hard empirical evidence, present complex dynamics of the interplay of caste with electoral politics, its change and persistence, and its continued significance in various regional and historical contexts.

The rich ethnographic studies show how caste survives as a resource of social and cultural capital, and as a relationship that is always defined by power, hierarchy and inequality. The authors state that caste influences and determines people’s access to nourishment, shelter, property, and personal and financial security.

This book provides a rounded assessment of the subject that presents the complexities of caste practices in twenty-first century India.

Surinder S. Jodhka is Professor of Sociology, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

James Manor is Emeritus Professor of Commonwealth Studies, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London.

List of Tables, Figures and Maps

List of Abbreviations


Surinder S. Jodhka and James Manor

Part I: Power, Privilege and Networks

1. Caste Networks and Regional Political Economy
Jeffrey Witsoe

2. Privilege in Dispute
Economic and Political Change and Caste Relations in Tamil Nadu Early in the Twenty-first Century
John Harriss

3. Alternatives to Caste-based Channels of Influence
Anirudh Krishna

Part II: Cultures, Economies and Politics of Discrimination

4. From Hierarchy to Hindu Politeness
Caste Atrocities and Dalit Protest in Rural Marathwada
Suryakant Waghmore

5. Untouchability Unlimited?
Caste Discrimination, Hierarchy and Politics in Contemporary Tamil Nadu
Hugo Gorringe

6. Caste Discrimination in Contemporary Tamil Nadu
Evidence from the Tiruppur Textile Region
G. Carswell, G. De Neve and J. Heyer

7. How Inclusive has India’s Growth Been?
Amit Thorat

Part III: Identities and Mobilisations

8. Caste, Identity and Power
Making and Unmaking of Caste Mobilisation in West Bengal
Dayabati Roy

9. Caste, Religion and Nation
The Relationship Between Christianity and Caste Society in India and its Misconstrual David Mosse

10. Memory, Identity and the Politics of Appropriation Saff ronisation among the Dalits of North India Badri Narayan

11. Sanskritisation?
North Bihar in Comparative Perspective
Indrajit Roy

12. Dalit Mobilisation and Faction Politics in Rural Andhra Pradesh The Everyday Life of a Dalit NGO and a Dalit Agricultural Labour Union David Picherit

Notes on the Contributors


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