Caste, Society and Politics in India from the Eighteenth Century to the Modern Age

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 22, 2001 - History - 421 pages
4 Reviews
The phenomenon of caste has probably aroused more controversy than any other aspect of Indian life. This volume explores the emergence of ideas and practices which gave rise to the so-called 'caste-society'. Using an historical and anthropological approach, the author frames her analysis in the context of India's economic and social order, interpreting caste as a contingent and variable response to changes in India's political landscape through the colonial conquest. The book's wide-ranging analysis offers one of the most powerful statements ever written on caste in South Asia.

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Bayly, in her desperation, to blame the British Raj for all the ills of pre-independence India, rides rough-shod over the historical evidence, seemingly to match her pre-conceptions with a strange brand of odd and somewhat suspect ideology.
What's worse is she condemns generations of students who look to Wikipedia for the historical record only to discover this same author edits these articles citing her own work as source material!
Not worth the paper its printed on, avoid.

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A VERY poorly-researched text book with regards to caste and society.
* Fails to identify Mughal administrative system in various subas of the Mughal Empire - at all. Hence, paints a poor picture
of how 'caste' labels evolved and become associated with a particular 'status' accurately. I.e. no mention of Khalisa-lands versus Jagirdari-lands, no mention of how mansabdari and faujdari was obtained,
* Fails to mention religious and cultural diversity throughout North India, and how a communities relations/importance-given to Brahmins (community of orthodox hindu priests) affected Varna status in the 16th and 17th century.
* Fails to take into account Ain-I-Akbari land records and inaccurately labels certain castes as nomadic or pastoral when there is clear contemprary evidence that they where settled agrarian landowning communities with a degree of nobility or noble zamindar titles; though not orthodox vedic 'Hindus' by faith.
* many more inaccuracies...
I should also mention that the author of this book (Susan Bayly) goes under the username 'Sitush' in Wikipedia; who enjoys quoting this book in many caste and community related articles (to raise it's academic importance? I can only suspect). Outside of Wikipedia, this book holds no or very little academic value as significant conclusions are drawn solely from opinion of the author.


Historical origins of a caste society
kings and service people c 17001830
Western orientalists and the colonial perception of caste
incubus or essence?
The everyday experience of caste in colonial India
Caste debate and the emergence of Gandhian nationalism
the politicisation of
Caste in the everyday life of independent India
Caste wars and the mandate of violence

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About the author (2001)