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Caste, Class And Internal ‘Others’: ‘Lower Orders’ In Bengal

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Chapter Summary

This chapter illuminates how samaj mediated the fragmentation of Indian society in vertical terms that is as a hierarchical chain where each caste/group knows its own place and has fixity, as well as in regard to peripheries or outer margins. Such mediations set the discourse on 'lower orders' in finer and nuanced contexts of multiple layers of inclusion, co-opting and situational exclusion of specific groups and categories. In late colonial Bengal, caste and class intertwined in restructuring groups and imbuing them with social status, which did not derive solely from high caste affiliation. Class, seen as social rank, paralleled and intersected with the importance deriving from inherited kula (caste) identity and status. The racial-cum-cultural divide of Aryan and non-Aryan was closely connected to the differential of caste. Tribes such as the Santhals, Mundas, Nagas and Kukis were regarded as descendants of non-Aryans, born of Dravidian stock.

Keywords: Bengali samaj; colonial Bengal; low caste; lower order; Non-Aryan tribes



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