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ANTI-CASTE CONFERENCE on “Caste and Sociology”


Krantisinh Nana Patil Academy, Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj Research Centre
and Tarabai Shinde Women’s Studies Centre organise the FIFTH NATIONAL ANTI-CASTE CONFERENCE on “Caste and Sociology ” at Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad 28th and 29th January 2011;
Concept note:

Caste became a subject of sociological and anthropological enquiry during colonialism. The major ideological frameworks within which caste was comprehended and analysed at this time were Orientalism and Indology both of which substantially relied on Brahminical texts. Parallel to this ‘text view’ was colonial anthropology which used evolutionary and functionalist paradigms in generating empirical insights about caste. The nationalist school welcomed and internalised the Orientalists’ empirical (textual) method of the study of caste, which considered caste only within the restricted framework of ‘culture’ and religion. The theories of caste which emanated from such studies ultimately proved beneficial to the Brahminical tradition and interests.
The anti-caste movement stimulated and significantly contributed to the sociological studies on caste,by looking at the exploitative nature of caste in its religiocultural, economic and social aspects. The neo-Marxian theoretical view critiqued and complicated the classical Marxian interpretation of caste, moving beyond the tendency to equate caste with class or to see a one-to-one relationship between the two and provided a nuanced understanding of how caste configures and re-configures itself.
Other major theoretical approaches in academic sociology engaging with caste were structuralism and structural- functionalism which have not paid attention to the experiential accounts of the exploited groups within the caste system. The postmodernist approach is the recent entrant in problematizing caste. Amidst this prevailing abundance of approaches and studies on caste it is required to emphasise and prioritise those approaches which foreground the political, social and cultural articulations of the victims of caste system. This appears to be the correct choice from a transformatory political perspective.
As brought out earlier, caste continues to prevail in India both in its traditional manifestations and in new avatars. Struggles for the upward mobility of one’s caste group have played an important role in the construction of change and continuity in caste. In fact, social cohesion has been maintained in India through struggles of this kind. Therefore it is important to study both struggles aiming at economic, political, social or cultural enhancement of the role of one’s caste on the one hand, and genuine anti-caste struggles on the other.
The colonial mode of production created conditions for the emergence of class within the matrix of caste itself. This is evident from the fact that working class and capitalist class emerged from the erstwhile toiling castes and trading castes respectively.

Though the new capitalist order has challenged the hereditary nature of caste and structures of labour in some ways, caste-based appropriation of surplus was the only basis of capitalist exploitation, at least in the villages. Since capitalist development was oriented towards appropriating the surplus drawn from agriculture and diverting it to industrialisation, the process of formation of class relations in the rural society remained slow. Consequently, the elites of the dominant peasant castes in rural India remained influential and, at the national level, the entrepreneurs, and capitalists from the upper castes continued to dominate.
On the global scale, it is finance capital rather than industrial capital that is dominant. So even if the opening up of markets widens the class-based division of labour, with the dominance of service-based industries, upward class mobility requires cultural adaptations in the pattern of sanskritisation/brahminisation. The politics of caste identity thus becomes more entrenched. Religious fundamentalism and caste-consciousness have
both become widespread in the context of contemporary globalisation. How does this affect the social structure of caste? The Indian caste-class structure is organically linked to brahminical patriarchy.
The interrelationship between caste, class and patriarchy is constantly changing; a sociological study of this interrelationship thus becomes crucial to our understanding of Indian reality. Though the family is seen as an important institution in sociology, there is no attempt to study caste and family together. It is necessary to study how caste and patriarchy are instrumental in arranging marriages, child rearing, distribution of property
/ income and the day-to-day division of labour. The family is in a state of flux under globalisation, industrialisation and urbanisation. Even in the rural areas, the family is facing many kinds of pressure. It is imperative to undertake sociological study of these tensions and shifts.
Against this backdrop, literature, art, media and the sociology of education need to be studied in the context of caste. With a view of comprehending and analysing various aspects of the sociology of caste, Krantisinh Nana Patil Academy, Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj Research Centre and Tarabai Shinde Women’s Studies Centre are jointly organising the Fifth Anti-Caste Conference in January 2011.
Issues to be addressed in the conference:
1) Sociological Theorisation of Caste
2) Caste Mobility and Caste Struggle: Sociological Understanding
3) Capitalism and Socialisation of Caste
4) Sociology of Religion and Caste
5) Caste, Class and Patriarchy: Sociological Interpretation
6) Caste and the Family System
7) Political Socialisation of Caste
8 Education, Literature, Art, Media and Caste: Sociological Perspectives
9) Case Studies of Caste and Field Studies.
Last date for submission of abstract: 15 December 2010.The abstract & Paper should be submitted to Dr. Wandana Sonalkar, Director, Tarabai Shinde Women’s Studies Centre, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathawada University, Aurangabad.
Registration Fees: Rs.200.00
Dr. Wandana Sonalkar Dr. Narayan Bhosale Dr. Umesh Bagade
Director Conference Co-ordinator Director
Tarabai Shinde Women’s Studies Centre Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj Research Centre
E-mail: wsonalkar@gmail.com E-mail: ubagade@gmail.com