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Recasting Caste

Recasting Caste
From the Sacred to the Profane

First Edition
Critical Acclaim

March 2014 | 308 pages | SAGE India
Recasting Caste confronts the mainstream sociology of caste at its root: Louis Dumont’s Homo Hierarchicus and its main source, Max Weber’s distinction between class and status. Conventional wisdom on caste is idealist, and most students of the subject therefore exaggerate ritual homogeneity and deflect attention from intracaste differentiation and inequality. In contrast, by focusing on intracaste differences, Professor Singh demonstrates that caste hierarchy is grounded in a monopoly of land rights and political power supported by religious and secular ideology. Drawing on the sociological, anthropological and historical literature, as well as primary sources, Recasting Caste refutes the widespread claim that, in India, caste consciousness always trumps class consciousness. It questions the twin myths that caste is a product of Hinduism and that caste is essential to the survival of Hinduism. It thereby reorients the entire field of study.

Preface: Growing up in Caste, Studying Caste—A Personal and Professional Story
Studying Caste: Ideas, Material Conditions and History
Priest and Prince: Status–Power Muddle
Varna to Caste: Religious and Economic-Political
Caste and Subaltern Studies: Elite Ideology, Revisionist Historiography
Inequalities between and within Castes: Kin, Caste and Land
Changing Land Relations and Caste: View from a Village
Indenture, Religion and Caste: The Twin Myths about Hinduism and Caste

The book will appeal to anyone who is interested in understanding the highly complex phenomenon of caste and is prepared to go beyond the “sacred” and look for its “profane” dimensions.... Its greatest contribution is that it engages with and historicises caste.

Frontline, 7 August 2015

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ISBN: 9788132113461