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POLI 322 sept 12.docx

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Political Science
Course Code
POLI 322
Narendra Subramanian

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POLI 322 – Lecture Notes September 12, 2012 Caste and Society: Colonial Political Institutions -conferences open for registration -conferences start next Wed, Sept 19 -presentations during conferences -the later your presentation, the more is expected Untouchability -most extensive social, ritual and economic restrictions -exclusion from public spaces, resource access -labor and service obligations -untouchability literal in some regions -frequency of violence -main roots: agrarian bondage -there is a strict list of castes which are considered “untouchables”: scheduled castes -a little over 16% of the Indian population -these groups tend to be undercounted in censuses, so their actual count may be higher -in other countries, they either aren’t as carefully counted or aren’t counted at all -in Pakistan and Bangladesh, they essentially deny the fact that untouchability exists Missing in Static View -scope for change in status  different ways in which groups could move up/down in status  festivals; being closer to the front increases your social status  priestly groups had more power than anyone else to have an effect on status  in some cases, caste groups form within a caste that are more successful, thus separating themselves from the parent caste and moving up in status  sometimes groups also moved down -varna-jati: non-correspondence  varna is the larger category, jati is the subcategory  however, varna status of certain jatis can be uncertain  varna status of caste was more definite in Northern/Central India where there were greater concentrations of Hindus -regional variations  lineage and clans are particularly important in Western India; functioned almost like class  nature of the economy also made a difference; in regions of longterm largescale agriculture, caste tended to be more hierarchical  in other regions, there was a larger middle (where the stages of caste are somewhat uncertain)  in some region, the restrictions associated with certain castes were uncertain (e.g. unapproachability) -caste and occupation don’t coincide  this relationship is not a 1:1 relationship  more correspondence at the upper and lower ends of the spectrum  not too many upper caste people were poor, and many in the bottom castes were agricultural workers with very little valuable land  in the middle, there is more indeterminacy -changes in social arenas in which caste relevant  as big cities grew, the established places where caste mattered which existed in small villages couldn’t necessarily be maintained  marriage networks continue to be important  however, amongst some groups, even this has become more flexible -relevance of caste among non-Hindus  caste is read out for Hindu scripture and should be read out through that religion  however sometimes it is translated to other faiths in South Asia  Sri Lanka: Buddhist, Hindus, Christians, and Sikhs also retain the case titles of their ancestors  middle to lower status groups often have caste titles that link to occupation (similar to Hindus)  Untouchables are a smaller group  among Muslims, caste titles are more attached to occupation in Northern India and Pakistan than in Southern/Eastern India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -claim that Hinduism cast their shadow over other religions’ practices -but in fact caste has different forms of justification amongst different religious groups Changes Under Colonial Rule -reified caste, aiming to preserve tradition  some routes to mobility closed off  legal recognition of caste privilege -“modernizing” changes  preferential policies  commercialization  Christian proselytization and responses -censuses had a huge impact -number of people belonging to particular castes was counted -this changed the nature of caste identity -although caste has changed quite a bit, some pre-colonial aspects of castes still exist -colonialism had an ambiguous effect on the idea of caste -in some ways, colonial rule froze the caste syste
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