P16
Persistent hierarchies? Caste today

Convenors:
Kenneth Bo Nielsen (University of Bergen)
Sarbani Bandyopadhyay (St. Xavier's College (Autonomous), Kolkata)
Chair:
Kenneth Bo Nielsen (University of Bergen); Sarbani Bandyopadhyay (Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay)
Discussant:
Sumit Guha (University of Texas at Austin); Kenneth Bo Nielsen (University of Bergen)
Location:
Room 213
Start time:
29 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

Caste continues to be a significant force in Indian society and politics, taking on new guises even as older pervasive hierarchies continue to seep into the present. This panel interrogates the contemporary workings of caste, and the context-specific practices and ideas associated with it.

Long abstract:

Once a staple of Indian sociological and political analysis, caste has been comparatively marginal in much recent academic discourse on India. The contemporary marginality of caste owes undoubtedly to the opening up of new areas of study concerning gender, neoliberalism, conflict, development and more. Yet caste continues to be a significant force in Indian society, taking on new guises even as older pervasive hierarchies continue to seep into the present. To interrogate anew caste in contemporary India in its many forms, this panel invites papers from scholars working on this subject across disciplines. We encourage our participants to address the contemporary workings of caste, and the practices and ideas associated with it, from an empirical point of departure. Representations of caste as 'a system', we believe, are partial and subjected to the positioned gaze of the beholder, and as such grounded in time and space. Moving beyond holistic theory, we invite participants to interrogate the specificities of caste empirically and as embedded in particular local and / or regional contexts. We particularly welcome contributions from younger scholars. We are also interested in papers that deal with the significance of caste in parts of India where caste hierarchies are generally seen as 'weak'; with the workings of caste among religious minorities, in diasporic settings, or among social strata were the influence of caste is believed to be on the wane or subject to important transformations.