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Description - Identity and Identification in India by Laura Dudley-Jenkins

Do reservation policies reinforce the very categories they are meant to eradicate? In India, policies reserving government jobs, legislative seats and university admissions for disadvantaged groups, like affirmative action policies elsewhere, are based on the premise that recognizing group distinctions in society is necessary to subvert those distinctions. Yet, the official identification of eligible groups has unintended side effects on identity politics. Bridging theories which emphasize the fluidity of identities and those which highlight the utility of group-based mobilizations and policies, this book exposes didactic enforcement of categorizations, while recognizing the social and political gains facilitated by group-based strategies. The state, through the courts, official anthropology, censuses, and caste lists and certificates, monitors the boundaries of the beneficiary groups. Social reality, however, differs due to dynamic processes such as intermarriage, religious conversion, or migration. Officials nevertheless struggle to sort out ambiguous cases. Documents and interviews with government officials demonstrate that these policies sometimes give great weight to boundaries that are becoming increasingly blurred. Yet, interviews with political activists and a review of protest group literature show that the categories themselves have become political catalysts, sparking varied and competing challenges to the official definitions of beneficiary groups. Low caste converts from Hinduism, lobbying for reservations, face criticism from other low caste and Hindu groups. Women trying to get reserved Parliamentary seats face demands for subquotas on the basis of class or religion. This historically grounded examination of ongoing constructions of caste, class, religion and gender in India contributes new insights about the relationship between state identifications and social identities. Combining new empirical data with theories of identity from a variety of fields in the social sciences and humanities, this book will appeal to a wide, interdisciplinary audience interested in identity politics, comparative development, public policy, and the political legacies of colonialism.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780415296809
ISBN-10: 0415296803
Format: Hardback
(229mm x 152mm x mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: RoutledgeCurzon
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Publish Date: 12-Dec-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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