Castes of Mind by Nicholas B. Dirks
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Castes of Mind
By Nicholas B. Dirks

Castes of Mind

Colonialism and the Making of Modern India

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Format: Paperback

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Castes of Mind by Nicholas B. Dirks

Book Description

When thinking of India, it is hard not to think of caste. In academic and common parlance alike, caste has become a central symbol for India, marking it as fundamentally different from other places while expressing its essence. Nicholas Dirks argues that caste is, in fact, neither an unchanged survival of ancient India nor a single system that reflects a core cultural value. Rather than a basic expression of Indian tradition, caste is a modern phenomenon--the product of a concrete historical encounter between India and British colonial rule. Dirks does not contend that caste was invented by the British. But under British domination caste did become a single term capable of naming and above all subsuming India's diverse forms of social identity and organization. Dirks traces the career of caste from the medieval kingdoms of southern India to the textual traces of early colonial archives; from the commentaries of an eighteenth-century Jesuit to the enumerative obsessions of the late-nineteenth-century census; from the ethnographic writings of colonial administrators to those of twentieth-century Indian scholars seeking to rescue ethnography from its colonial legacy. The book also surveys the rise of caste politics in the twentieth century, focusing in particular on the emergence of caste-based movements that have threatened nationalist consensus. Castes of Mind is an ambitious book, written by an accomplished scholar with a rare mastery of centuries of Indian history and anthropology. It uses the idea of caste as the basis for a magisterial history of modern India. And in making a powerful case that the colonial past continues to haunt the Indian present, it makes an important contribution to current postcolonial theory and scholarship on contemporary Indian politics.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780691088952
ISBN-10: 0691088950
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 22mm)
Pages: 392
Imprint: Princeton University Press
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publish Date: 17-Sep-2001
Country of Publication: United States

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Books By Author Nicholas B. Dirks

Scandal of Empire by Nicholas B. Dirks Scandal of Empire, Paperback (May 2008)

When Warren Hastings was put on trial by Edmund Burke, it brought the East India Company's exploits to public attention. Presenting the scandal that laid the foundation of the British Empire, this work explains how the substitution of imperial authority for Company rule helped erase the origins of empire and justify the British presence in India.

Hollow Crown by Nicholas B. Dirks Hollow Crown, Paperback (December 2007)

The Hollow Crown reconstructs the sociocultural history of a warrior polity in south India between the fourteenth and the twentieth centuries.

Culture/Power/History by Nicholas B. Dirks Culture/Power/History, Paperback (November 1993)

Offers a perspective on social theory in the contemporary moment. This readers includes essays that address Foucault's "new economy of power relations" in a number of different, contestatory directions.

» View all books by Nicholas B. Dirks


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Author Biography - Nicholas B. Dirks

Nicholas B. Dirks is Franz Boas Professor of History and Anthropology at Columbia University. He is the author of The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom and the editor of Colonialism and Culture and In Near Runs. He has taught at the University of Michigan, the California Institute of Technology, and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociale in Paris.

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