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Being Brahmin, Being Modern

There is clearly an academic and political obsession with the 'idea' of the Brahmin. There is also, simultaneously, a near-complete absence of engagement with the Brahmin as an embodied person or community. This book addresses this intriguing paradox by making available a sociological description of the Brahmins in today's Karnataka. It pursues three distinct, yet enmeshed, registers of inquiry - the persona of the 'Brahmin' embodied in the agency of the individual Brahmin; the organised complexes of action such as the caste association and the public culture of print; and finally, taking off from a longer (yet, modern and contemporary) history of non-Brahminical othering of the Brahmin. It argues that we tend to understand the contemporaneity of caste almost exclusively within the twin registers of legitimation-contestation and dominance-resistance. While these facets continue to be salient, there is also a need to push out into hitherto neglected dimensions of caste. The book focuses attention on the many lives of modern caste - its secularisation, the subject positions that it offers, the equivocations by which persons and communities become 'subjects' of caste, their differential investments in the caste-self.
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About the Author

Ramesh Bairy is Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Powai, Mumbai.

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