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By Sekhar Bandyopadhyay

It really is greatly believed that, due to its unheard of social improvement, the caste process in colonial Bengal differed significantly from the remainder of India. via a learn of the advanced interaction among caste, tradition and tool, this publication convincingly demonstrates that Bengali Hindu society preserved the necessities of caste discrimination in colonial instances, even whereas giving the outward visual appeal of getting replaced.

Using empirical info mixed with a magnificent array of secondary assets, Dr Bandyopadhyay delineates the style during which Hindu caste society maintained its cultural hegemony and structural team spirit. This was once essentially accomplished by way of difficult reformist endeavours, via co-opting the demanding situations of the dalit, and via marginalising dissidence. It used to be via one of these strategy of consistent negotiation within the realm of pop culture, argues the writer, that this oppressive social constitution and its hierarchical ideology and values have survived.

Starting with an exam of the connection among caste and gear, the ebook examines early cultural encounters among `high' Brahmanical culture and the extra egalitarian `popular' non secular cults of the decrease castes. It strikes directly to take an in depth examine the connection among caste and gender displaying the explanations why the reform flow for widow remarriage failed. It ends with an exam of the Hindu `partition' crusade, which appropriated dalit self reliant politics and made Hinduism the basis of an emergent Indian nationwide id.

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay breaks with a number of the assumptions of 2 vital faculties of concept - the Dumontian and the subaltern - and takes as a substitute a extra nuanced method of exhibit how excessive caste hegemony has been capable of perpetuate itself. He hence takes up concerns which visit the guts of up to date difficulties in India's social and political textile. this crucial and unique contribution might be greatly welcomed by means of historians, sociologists and political scientists.

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17 Nicholas Dirks, The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom (Cambridge: 1987), p. 5. 18 See for example, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, Oxford: 2000). Caste and Power ❅ 45 In the changing social scenario of colonial India, status discrepancies, which had the most perilous potential of creating imbalances in Hindu society, could be resolved through an assertion of hegemonic power by the dominant castes, who defended their position by coopting upwardly mobile groups into the existing power structure.

Starting with case studies of early cultural encounters between ‘high’ Brahmanical tradition and the more egalitarian ‘popular’ religious cults of the lower castes, it will end with an examination of the Hindu ‘Partition’ campaign, which tended to appropriate dalit autonomous politics and made Hinduism the foundation of an emergent Indian national identity. The first chapter of this book sets this discussion in context by unraveling the power structure of Hindu caste society in pre-colonial and colonial Bengal, by showing that neither the orthodox nor the reformist discourses ever contested the notion of hierarchy, which was the foundational principle of the caste system.

84 In this situation, therefore, apparently conflicting identities woven around caste, class, religion or nation, were locked in a complex cobweb of interrelationship. Any theory of the essential ‘otherness’ of dalit identity85 would not really help us understand this paradigm. This is not to suggest that the putative corporate status of caste was 83 S. Bandyopadhyay, Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India. For a general discussion on the Scheduled Caste movements in the 1940s, see, Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, ‘From Alienation to Integration: Changes in the Politics of Caste in Bengal, 1937–47’, The Indian Economic and Social History Review, vol.

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