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