Can 'Castelessness' Fix Caste?

 

 

Why are the privileged upper castes enabled to think of themselves as "casteless", while the disprivileged lower castes are forced to intensify their caste identities?

Sociologist Satish Deshpande, in his article: “Caste and Castelessness: Towards a Biography of the ‘General Category’,” discusses how the upper caste identity can be completely overwritten by modern professional identities of choice, while the lower caste identity is so indelibly engraved that it overwrites all other identities and renders them illegible, along with the choices that they may represent.

He argues that this asymmetrical division has truncated the effective meaning of caste to lower caste, thus leaving the upper castes free to monopolise the "general category" by posing as casteless citizens.

 

Illustration: Chaitanya Mandugula [chaitanya@epw.in]

Curated by: Vishnupriya Bhandaram [vishnupriya@epw.in]

 

Read more on Caste 

Busted: Four Myths on Caste-Based Reservation Policies by EPW Engage 
The 'Non-Brahmin' Cook from Pune and the Myth of the 'Caste-less' Middle Class by Vidula Sonagra and Nachiket Kulkarni
Does Art Have a Caste? A Debate on Carnatic Music
Caste in 21st Century India: Competing Narratives by Amaresh Dubey and Sonalde Desai
Explicit Prejudice: Evidence from a New Survey by Diane Coffey, Payal Hath, Nidhi Khurana and Amit Thorat 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Must Read

More importance should be given to recovering the stories of marginalised people who were involved in the struggle for independence.  
In India, the debates around prison reforms and rights of prisoners have been very limited. Through our three-part series we seek to initiate a debate towards prisoners’ civil and political rights....
Tagore's brand of nationalism is fundamentally rooted in the question of what it means to be human.
Back to Top