Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age

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The phenomenon of caste has probably aroused more controversy than any other aspect of Indian life and thought. Some scholars see India's caste system as the defining feature of Indian culture, although it is dismissed by others as a colonial artefact. Susan Bayly's cogent and sophisticated analysis explores the emergence of the ideas, experiences and practices which gave rise to so-called 'caste society' over a period of 350 years, from the pre-colonial period to the end of the twentieth century. Combining historical and anthropological approaches, Bayly frames her analysis within the context of India's dynamic economic and social order. She thereby interprets caste not as the essence of Indian culture and civilisation, but rather as a contingent and variable response to the enormous changes that occurred in the subcontinent's political landscape both before and after colonial conquest.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An outstanding book and an excellent addition to the New Cambridge History of India." Choice

"[Bayly's] survey of the literature on caste is virtually comprehensive....The book is well documented and would be a good source as a reference work for advanced students of South Asian studies." Religious Studies Review

"Jackson has given us an indispensable interpretation of this era...Any attempt to sort out the questions of caste in modern Indian history would require a widely read scholar who is also brave. Susan Bayly is such a scholar. Bayly has written an excellent, stimulating survey of the history of conception, description,analysis, and influence of the idea and institution of caste and community in modern South Asia. As part of the New Cambridge History of India, it clearly fulfills the editorila mandates of presenting recent scholarship and changing historical conceptions of the modern subcontinent." American His Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521264341
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2008
  • Series: New Cambridge History of India Series
  • Pages: 444
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Table of Contents

List of plates
General editor's preface
Map 1 The break-up of the Mughal empire, c. 1766
Map 2 British India, 1858-1947
Map 3 India after Independence, 1956-1987
Introduction 1
1 Historical origins of a 'caste society' 25
2 The 'Brahman Raj': kings and service people c. 1700-1830 64
3 Western 'orientalists' and the colonial perception of caste 97
4 Caste and the modern nation: incubus or essence? 144
5 The everyday experience of caste in colonial India 187
6 Caste debate and the emergence of Gandhian nationalism 233
7 State policy and 'reservations': the politicisation of caste-based social welfare schemes 266
8 Caste in the everyday life of independent India 306
9 'Caste wars' and the mandate of violence 342
Conclusion 365
Glossary 383
Bibliography 388
Index 413
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