[Marxism] US Blacks: caste, race, or nation?

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at berkeley.edu
Sun Mar 5 23:32:00 MST 2006

Caste, race, politics

THE arguments in this paper are set out in two stages. I will first 
point out why caste should not be seen as another variant of race. If 
this position is sustained then it follows that casteism is not 
racism under a different name. In the second section I hope to 
demonstrate the political consequences, some quite damaging, if caste 
were to be equated with race.


Interesting piece but based on caricatures of African American psychology.

  Oliver Cox had his reasons for rejecting the caste theory of race 
relations but
his understanding of the Indian caste system as a ritual based 
interdependent whole whose values
were shared by all alike was ahistorical and static. And too conflict 
attenuating. For Cox race depended on violence, and its worldview was 
not shared at any level by its victims.

But  untouchability may well indeed have similarities to US racial 
oppression (see Ursula Sharma's
discussion of Gerald Berreman in her short monograph Caste), yet that 
untouchability is a creation of colonial modernity which had the 
effect of expanding the category , rigidifying pollution barriers and 
generally re-traditionalizing society. Caste had become the basis for 
political mobilization; it had been substantialized, each jati 
conceived as a thing onto itself, independent and in competition with 
other jati.  This is not to say that the caste system and 
untouchability were simply a creation of colonial modernity; only 
that its  forms are are historical and changing. See the writings of 
Irfan Habib, Deepa Reddy, CJ Fuller, Arjun Appadurai, Susan Bayly, 
Nicholas Dirks


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