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Caste in Question: Identity or Hierarchy?

Dipankar Gupta (Editor)
Synopsis This important volume provides an alternative perspective on caste. It demonstrates that the traditional view of caste—as a single hierarchy, with Brahmins at the top and the untouchable castes at the bottom—is no longer valid. From politics to gender to economic interaction, the contributors reveal how the erstwhile single, pure hierarchical order is constantly being questioned and weakened. The essays in this volume argue for a different conceptualisation of caste—one that would take into account the need for caste assertion and dignity as well as notions of hierarchy. The contributors show that while pride in one’s caste identity is an important feature of the caste order, this is not incompatible with contesting notions of hierarchy. Caste is now better seen in terms, first, of discrete identities and then in terms of multiple and contesting hierarchies. Using contemporary experiences, this exciting volume reflects on received wisdom concerning theories of caste and provides an entirely fresh perspective.
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About the author

Dipankar Gupta

Dipankar Gupta is Professor of Sociology at the School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. The author of Rivalry and Brotherhood: Politics in the Life of Farmers in Northern India (OUP, 1997), The Context of Ethnicity: Sikh Identity in a Comparative Perspective (OUP, 1996), he has also edited Social Stratification (OUP, 1991) and more recently Anti-Utopia: Essential Writings of Andre Beteille (OUP, 2005). He is also co-editor of Contributions to Indian Sociology.

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Bibliographic information

Title Caste in Question: Identity or Hierarchy?
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2005
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0761933247
length xxi+255p., Index; 22cm.