Literature, Caste and Society: The Masks and Veils
S. Jeyaseela Stephen
Kalpaz, 2006 - Caste - 427 pages
This groundbreaking collection presents a significantly different portrait of the medieval and modern Indian society, literature, and the nation-state. Reporting on eighteen studies in five distinct sections spanning many centuries of Indian social history it has brought fresh insights into the emergence of innumerable sub-castes owing to various factors such as political, economic, inter-religious and intercultural. This remarkable set of reconstructions presents the reader with familiar as well as unfamiliar group and areas within the subcontinent offering fresh appraisals of the evidence and of modern historical writing. What unites them here is an overarching thesis on social formation and transformation by establishing links chronologically and thematically. It is argued that although modernizing forces entered the caste system with the advent of the European missionaries and trading companies it did not radically alter the system but the changes brought about in the Indian society remained complex. There has been conflict in the society right from the time of Buddha challenging the Vedic and Shastric traditions. We find non-Brahmin tradition as part of broader Hinduism. In British India various reformers launched social reform movements to challenge the hegemony of the upper castes and to bring about change and transformation towards the egalitarian order. The books into the issues of identity, power conversion and gender inequality.
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