THE INTERPRETATION OF CASTE

THE INTERPRETATION OF CASTE

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Item Code: IDH050
Author: DECLAN QUIGLEY
Publisher: OXFORD INDIA PAPERBACKS
Language: English
ISBN: 0195651715
Pages: 184
Cover: Paperback
Other Details: 8.4" X 5.4"
About the Book

Sociologists tend to argue that caste the caste is an extreme form of social stratification where the individual' social position is fixed at birth and cannot be changed. But why this should be so is usually left mysteriously vague. Anthropologists tend to explain caste in terms of indigenous ideas-in particular those which relate concepts of purity and impurity and the relation between religious status and

political power.

Drawing on a wide range of source as well as four years' fieldwork, Quigley argues that neither of these approaches makes adequate sense of the historical and ethnographic evidence, and proposes a comparative approach which looks at caste in terms of complex agrarian societies generally. Caste, he argues, is the result of a tension between opposing forces. On the one hand there is a push towards centralization which is seen most clearly in royal rituals and dominant caste institutions which are the legacy of pre-colonial kingship. Against this there is a pull towards decentralization which is manifested in the continued power which kinship groups exert over their members t the expense of other forms of association. A masterly critique of the most commonly held theories of caste, this book is essential reading for sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and all others.

interested in caste

This is, quite simply, an excellent book on caste: refined enough for the specialist, robust and clear enough for the generalist…this book will set the empirical cat amongst the theoretical pigeons. The wider ramifications of this work are important too.' - Asian Affairs.

About the Author

Declan Quigley was previously at the Universities of Cambridge and Belfast. He is now a member of the Department of social Anthropology in St Andrews, Scotland, U.K. He has edited with David Gellner, Contested Hierarchies: a Collaborative Ethnography of Caste in the

Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.

CONTENTS
List of figures and Tableix
1THE PROBLEM BEFORE DUMONT1
The Entrenched view of Caste 1
The Word 'Caste' 4
Is Caste an Orientalist Construct?12
2DUMONT'S THEORY OF CASTE21
Epistemology and Sociology 21
The Distinctiveness of Caste 25
Status, Power, and Encompassment 30
The Structuralist Interpretation of Caste 31
Dumont's View of Empiricism 35
Dumont's Critique of His Critics37
3THE PROBLEM WITH DUMONT'S SOLUTION 39
Why the Problem is not Simply about Caste 39
The Sociological Bridge Between Traditional and Modern Societies 41
Power and Legitimacy 45
Structuralism 52
THE PURE BRAHMAN AND THE IMPURE PRIEST 54
The Ideal Brahman in the Real world 54
Priests and 'Others' as Vessels of Inauspiciousness 68
The Limits of Transcendence 82
5CASTE AND KINSHIP 87
Hypergamy 87
Isogamy 101
Hierarchy and Endogamy 111
6CASTE AND KINSHIP: HOCART'S THEORY 114
Kings and Priests 114
Problems with Hocart's Theory 122
The Ideologies of Caste 131
7THE COURTS OF KINGS AND WASHERMEN 142
A Model of Caste Systems 142
The Explanation of Caste 158
Bibliography 171
Index 181
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