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BEYOND CASTE

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Caste is today almost universally perceived as an ancient and unchanging Hindu institution preserved solely by deep-seated religious ideology. Yet the word itself is an importation from sixteenth-century Europe. This

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Caste is today almost universally perceived as an ancient and unchanging Hindu institution preserved solely by deep-seated religious ideology. Yet the word itself is an importation from sixteenth-century Europe. This book tracks the long history of the practices amalgamated under this label and shows their connection to changing patterns of social and political power down to the present. It frames caste as an involuted and complex form of ethnicity and explains why it persisted under non-Hindu rulers and in non-Hindu communities across South Asia. Sumit Guha s Beyond Caste is the most important synoptic study of caste since Louis Dumont s Homo Hierarchicus. Guha is an historian not an anthropologist but anthropologists should take note. He has marshalled a vast array of evidence drawn from native and pre-colonial sources rather than the more conveniently accessible colonial reconstructions that Dumont and others depended on along with an up-to-date reading of historical literatures few anthropologists are aware of to powerfully challenge both popular and anthropological common sense on the topic. Nathaniel Roberts About the AuthorSumit Guha has a History PhD 1981 from the University of Cambridge. He is Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History at the University of Texas at Austin. His previous books include Environment and Ethnicity in India c.1200 1991 1999 and Health and Population in South Asia from Earliest Times to the Present 2001 .

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