Accepted Paper:

"We have caste everywhere": global political mobilizations in the nineteenth century  


Demetrius Eudell (Wesleyan University)

Paper short abstract:

The presentation examines the politics of using caste as a metonym for social and political subordination.

Paper long abstract:

Among others, Nicholas B. Dirks has compellingly argued that the phenomenon of caste has served very powerfully, in both popular and academic imaginations, as the metonymic index of "the basic form and expression of Indian society" (1992). Building upon this insight, this presentation examines the use of the idea of caste as a metonym for social and political subordination, and especially with regard to racial hierarchy in the United States. It does by an investigation of the political discourse that emerged in U.S. in the wake of the abolition of slavery, such as with the Radical Republican Senator Charles Sumner's seminal 1869 lecture "The Question of Caste." Additionally, the core of the presentation's argument will be based on an analysis of the international journal Anti-Caste (1888-1893, 1895), a monthly which offered commentary and analysis that were often based on republished/excerpted articles and speeches. Previous scholarship has illuminated the biography of the founder and the institutional history of journal. This presentation however concentrates more closely on the implications of the conceptual breakthroughs found in one of the earliest journals that sought to challenge social and political hierarchies across the world. Moreover, despite its complexities, the presentation will demonstrate the way in which important groundwork for intersectional models of analyses of race, culture, religion, and indigeneity were being in the nineteenth century.

Panel P033
Towards a transnational anthropology of power: legacies and linkages of caste, race, and gender