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Brahmin and Non-Brahmin: Genealogies of the Tamil Political Present

M.S.S. Pandian (Author)
Synopsis In South India, the categories 'Brahmin' and 'non-Brahmin' are frequently treated as self-evident, both within Tamil politics and mainstream academic discourses. Departing form this 'common sense', the present book historicizes the complex processes by which these categories came into being and acquired political power over the past century. Using archival, regional-language, and unconventional sources, M.S.S. Pandian unsettles the self-evident quality of these categories and opens up a rich theoretical-critical space to rethink them. In the process, this book also offers a new perspective on colonialism in South India. Stepping away from mainstream nationalist accounts, it shows the ways in which colonialsm was, for Tamil society, a moment of crisis as well as possibilities. This ambiguous quality of colonial rule facilitated new ways of looking at the figures of the Brahmin, even as it enabled the making of a non-Brahmin identity. The Importance of this book for understanding politics and society in Tamil South India can scarcely be exaggerated. The Non-Brahmin writings and discursive strategies of E.V. Ramasamy 'Periyar', Maraimalai Adigal, and Iyothee Thoss, alongside those of an array of Brahminic thinkers and propagandists, are presented here with a degree of sophistication and analytic skill not available in other works of political, social, and intellectual history on the Indian South. This book will interest every historian, sociologist, and political analyst of India, as well as all who wish to understand anti-Brahmin and anti-upper-caste social movements.
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About the author

M.S.S. Pandian

M.S.S. Pandian is currently a Visiting Fellow of the Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi. He was previously on the faculty of the Centre for the Study of Social Sciences, Calcutta, and the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Madras. He is a member of the South Asia Regional Advisory Panel, Social Science Research Council, New York, and of the editorial collective of 'Subaltern Studies'.

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Bibliographic information

Title Brahmin and Non-Brahmin: Genealogies of the Tamil Political Present
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.2007
Edition 1st ed.
Publisher Permanent Black
Language: English
isbn 8178242217, 9788178242217
length xii+274p., Bibliography; Index; 23cm.