ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Lessons for Our Understanding of Caste

Contingent Caste Endogamy and Patriarchy

While endogamy is critical to caste and the reproduction of caste, the shifting circle of endogamy is instructive of how castes and their practices are dynamic. Insufficient attention has been paid to shifts in the enforcement of endogamy and the ways in which women's sexuality is controlled. These have varied not only by caste, but also over time and context. This paper argues that shifts in the assertion of endogamy vary according to a caste's consciousness and its aspirations at a particular historical moment. Further, in looking at varied responses to non-endogamous relationships and marriages, especially the tolerance to them in some instances, it explores the contingencies in the response. This shows that the idea of the "purity of the caste" masks forms of power often played out in the local - in the domestic, the village, or caste.

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