"Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present" by Sumit Guha (History Faculty New Book Talk)
Wed, October 8, 2014 • 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM • GAR 4.100
The History Faculty New Book Series presents:
Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present (Brill, 2013)
by Sumit Guha,
Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professorship in History
Dr. Guha earned his Ph.D. in 1981 at the University of Cambridge. His previous books include Health and Population in South Asia (Delhi and London: Permanent Black and C.Hurst and Co., London 2001) and Environment and Ethnicity in South Asia 1200-1991 (Cambridge University Press, 1999). He is currently working three book projects: Markets and Rulers in South Asia 1600-2000, a collection of essays being revised for Permanent Black, New Delhi; a volume surveying the environmental history of India c. 1200-1900; and a volume provisionally titled Text, History and Memory.
'Caste' is today almost universally perceived as an ancient and unchanging Hindu institution preserved solely by a deep-seated religious ideology. Yet the word itself is an importation from sixteenth-century Europe. This book tracks the long history of the practices amalgamated under this label and shows their connection to changing patterns of social and political power down to the present. It frames caste as an involuted and complex form of ethnicity and explains why it persisted under non-Hindu rulers and in non-Hindu communities across South Asia.