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Grant number like: FB-50487-04

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Anupama P. Rao
Barnard College (New York, NY 10027-6909)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2004 – 12/31/2004

The Caste Question: Struggles for Civil Rights and Recognition by Untouchables in India, 1927-1991

Though untouchability is considered an unchanging aspect of Indian culture, the twentieth-century has seen collective protest by untouchables against caste inequality. The Caste Question explores how untouchability became a "national problem," identifies the divergent aims of upper-caste and dalit leaders who sought to abolish untouchability, and explores the perpetuation of untouchability in spite of a constitutional commitment to secularism and equality. The manuscript draws on colonial records, police files, debates in state legislature, Marathi language pamphlets, poetry and literature, government reports, parliamentary debates, confidential police documents, and extensive interviews with, and participant observation amongst, untouchable activists, victims of caste violence, lawyers, police officials, and administrators. The book explores the relationship between cultural forms of inequality and the politics of identity in multireligious, multiethnic societies like India through histories of collective struggle. The Caste Question engages literatures on colonialism, nationalism, historical anthropology, South Asian studies, postcolonial politics, and human rights.