Caste, Culture and Hegemony: Social Dominance in Colonial Bengal

Front Cover
SAGE Publications India, Jul 1, 2004 - Social Science - 256 pages
It is widely believed that, because of its exceptional social development, the caste system in colonial Bengal differed considerably from the rest of India. Through a study of the complex interplay between caste, culture and power, this book convincingly demonstrates that Bengali Hindu society preserved the essentials of caste discrimination in colonial times, even while giving the outward appearance of having changed.

Using empirical data combined with an impressive array of secondary sources, Dr Bandyopadhyay delineates the manner in which Hindu caste society maintained its cultural hegemony and structural cohesion. Starting with an examination of the relationship between caste and power, the book examines early cultural encounters between `high` Brahmanical tradition and the more egalitarian `popular` religious cults of the lower castes. It moves on to take a close look at the relationship between caste and gender showing the reasons why the reform movement for widow remarriage failed. It ends with an examination of the Hindu `partition` campaign, which appropriated dalit autonomous politics and made Hinduism the foundation of an emergent Indian national identity.

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay breaks with many of the assumptions of two important schools of thought—the Dumontian and the subaltern—and takes instead a more nuanced approach to show how high caste hegemony has been able to perpetuate itself. He thus takes up issues which go to the heart of contemporary problems in India`s social and political fabric.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Contents

Acknowledgements
9
Introduction
11
Competing Discourses in Colonial Bengal
40
Revolt against Hierarchy and its Limits
77
The Case of Widow Remarriage
108
Social Mobility and the Status of Women
142
The Hindu Mahasabha Partition and the Dalit
191
Conclusion
240
Index
248
About the Author
253
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2004)

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay is Senior Lecturer and Head of the History Programme, School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His research interests include the social and political history of modern India, with special reference to Bengal. He has previously published a number of books including Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India: The Namasudras of Bengal, 1872–1937; Caste, Politics and the Raj: Bengal 1872–1937; and Bengal: Rethinking History, Essays in Historiography (co-edited). He is also the author of numerous articles on caste, culture and nationalist politics in colonial India that have appeared in many journals and edited volumes.

Bibliographic information