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

Do water policies recognise the differential requirements and usages of water by women and the importance of adequate availability and accessibility?
Personal Laws in India present a situation where abolishing them in the interest of gender justice also inadvertently benefits the reactionary side.   
Concerns have been raised about criminalising triple talaq now that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 has been passed as an ordinance. This reading list is to help...
Studies on sexual harassment complaint committees over the years highlight how committees, even when instituted, often do not function as they should. 
Two judgements in August 2017 came under the scanner for the language they used to define consent and talk about survivors of sexual assault.
Back to Top