Caste studies today

Imaginary victims and perpetrators

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1372

Keywords:

Caste system, jati, caste studies, caste discrimination, Brahmins, SN Balagangadhara, Ghent school, grievance studies, India, United Kingdom, United States, corruption

Abstract

Starting with an individual report in a leading British periodical of higher education, this article fans outwards to show how the contemporary field of caste studies reflects the degeneracy of its methods and claims. Rather than producing knowledge about India and the so-called caste system, caste studies has worked itself into a corner by creating a set of imagined victims and perpetrators of caste oppression, atrocities, violence and discrimination, and by making unsustainable claims on legal systems and other institutions. The manifold and insurmountable problems of contemporary caste studies include its basis in the European framework for the study of India founded upon Christian theological claims, the carry-over of this account into the secularised humanities and social sciences, and its engagement in corrupted academic practices of the kind that typify grievance studies today. That an alternative account exists in the form of the research programme of SN Balagangadhara, which inspires the articles in this special issue, is good reason for rethinking and revision of the field.

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Author Biography

Prakash Shah, Queen Mary University of London

Prakash Shah works at Queen Mary, University of London where he is a Reader in Culture and Law. He has an interest in several interlocking fields of law, culture, religion, caste, and migration. He has spent much of the past few years researching laws on caste discrimination. He was an awardee of the British Academy’s Tackling the UK's International Challenges grant for research network: “Designed to fail? Foundations of the laws on caste in India, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and the United Nations”. He is co-editor of the volume, Western Foundations of the Caste System (Palgrave, 2017).

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Published

01-02-2023

How to Cite

Shah, P. (2023) “Caste studies today: Imaginary victims and perpetrators”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 13(1), pp. 1–28. doi: 10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1372.