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Autobiography of an ArchiveA Scholar's Passage to India$
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Nicholas Dirks

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169677

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169677.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Castes of Mind

Castes of Mind

The Original Caste

Chapter:
(p.83) 4 Castes of Mind
Source:
Autobiography of an Archive
Author(s):

Nicholas B. Dirks

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231169677.003.0005

This chapter discusses the importance of caste in understanding India and Hinduism. In comparative sociology and in common parlance, caste has become a central metaphor for India. A long history of writing, such as the general anthropology of Louis Dumont, has identified caste as the basic form and expression of Indian society. Caste has been seen as always there in Indian history and as one of the major reasons why the country has no history, or at least no sense of history. Caste defines the core of Indian tradition, and caste is today the major threat to Indian modernity. Theories of caste are not only about society but also about politics and history. The chapter reflects on caste in relation to religion, politics, orientalism, and colonialism. It also examines Colin Mackenzie's role in the rescuing of southern India's precolonial historiography, along with the debate over H. H. Risley's emphasis on the racial basis of caste. Finally, it argues that the history of discourses on caste cannot be separated from the full institutional history of British colonialism.

Keywords:   caste, India, Hinduism, sociology, Indian society, politics, history, colonialism, Colin Mackenzie, H. H. Risley

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