Identity, Gender, and Poverty: New Perspectives on Caste and Tribe in Rajasthan

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Berghahn Books, 1997 - Social Science - 291 pages
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Most studies of the so-called tribal communities in India stress their social, economic, and political differences from communities that are organized on the basis of caste. It was this apparent contrast between tribal and caste lifestyle and, moreover, the paucity of material on tribal groups, that motivated the author to undertake this study of a poor "tribal" community, the Girasia, in northwestern India.

While carrying out her fieldwork, the author soon became aware that the traditional tribe-caste categories needed to be revised; in fact, she found them more often than not to be constructs by outsiders, mostly academic. Of greater importance for an understanding of the Girasia was the wider and more complex issue of self-perception and identification by others that must be seen in the context of their poverty as well as in the strategic and shifting use of kinship, gender and class relations in the region.

 

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Contents

Historical Background The Rajput State
45
Writing and Representing the Rajputs
59
Rajputs and Girasias in Independent India
69
Being a Girasia The Lineage and the Village
94
Across Villages Marriage Ideals Practices and Strategies
121
Resource Management and the Divisions of Kinship and Gender
156
Girasia Brideprice and the Politics of Marriage Payments
189
Religion and the Experience of Kinship
215
Class Resistance and Identity
238
Figures
248
Conclusions
264
Rural Population of Garasias and Bhils in Rajasthan
270
Index
289
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Page 54 - chiefs who were driven from their possessions by invaders and established and maintained their claim to a share of the revenue upon the ground of their power to disturb or prevent its collection".
Page 12 - For it fails to acknowledge, far less interpret, the contribution made by the people on their own, that is, independently of the elite to the making and development of this nationalism. In this particular respect the poverty of this historiography is demonstrated beyond doubt by its failure to understand and assess the mass articulation of this nationalism except, negatively, as a law and order problem, and positively, if at all, either as a response to the charisma of certain elite leaders or in...
Page 55 - Halliun, vol. i, p. 190. holds (grds) by grant (putta) of the prince, for which he performs service with specified quotas at home and abroad, renewable at every lapse, when all the ceremonies of resumption,* the fine of relief/f and the investiture take place.
Page 62 - The children of the sun and moon, the children of the fire fountain, seem to have forgotten the inspiriting traditions of their race, and have sunk into a state of slothful ignorance and debauchery that mournfully contrast with the chivalrous heroism, the judicious and active patriotism, the refined culture and the generous virtue.
Page 65 - pativratya' ie, being devoted to the husband alone, popularized by the Puranic writers, not merely implied fidelity to the husband but made service to the husband the only duty of the wife and her main purpose in life.
Page 45 - ... State', in the Going westwards from Upper India into Rajputana one enters the most romantic area in the peninsula, a land of ruined forts and ancient strongholds, famous for deeds of valour and self-sacrifice, crowning rugged heights above old and picturesque towns. Many are the monuments to long dead warriors, stones carved with a horseman and his weapons and the heavenly bodies, and still frequent are the stones carved with a single upraised arm indicating the place where a widow burned herself...
Page 45 - ... something of his tribal organization, and is subdivided into various artisan groups practising different crafts. These hill Doms now repudiate any connection with the scavengers of the plains.2 1 Crooke, Northern India, pp. 107 sqq. 2 Turner, 'Caste in the Kumaon division and Tehri-Garhwal State', in the Going westwards from Upper India into Rajputana one enters the most romantic area in the peninsula, a land of ruined forts and ancient strongholds, famous for deeds of valour and self-sacrifice,...
Page 55 - Girasias as already observed, retain their bhunt, rights, that is, they hold free of rent or at reduced rates on condition of some particular service, such as watch, and ward of their villages...
Page 62 - The saddest thing in all Rajwarra in the present day is the condition of the royal caste. The children of the sun and the moon, the children of the fire fountain, seem to have forgotten the inspiriting traditions of their race, and have sunk into a state of slothful ignorance and debauchery that mournfully contrast with the chivalrous heroism, the judicious and active patriotism, the refined culture and the generous...

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About the author (1997)

Maya Unnithan-Kumar is Lecturer in Social Anthropology, School of African and Asian Studies, University of Sussex.

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