Western Foundations of the Caste System (book)

Hello Friends,

The book co-edited by us (Sufiya Pathan and Dunkin Jalki of CIRHS), with others, is out in the market now. This book, is a collection of articles on an important issue of our times: the way the notion of the ‘caste system’ emerged from the European descriptions of their experience in India and some of the serious implications of taking this notion as a scientific description of Indian society.

This book is meant to encourage further research in the new field that it tries to establish. It is part of a concerted effort to bring caste under scientific scrutiny. Taking off from the research insights of S. N. Balagangadhara, who has been critiquing the Western Christian roots of scholarship on India, the book has made an attempt to show how the caste system became one building block in a much larger (and the only) story about India available today. This ambitious project, however, is surely much larger in scope than a book (or even a series of them), can handle. It is a task for a few generations of scholars. To this extent, this work is an attempt to generate this ambition in fellow scholars.

When you finish reading, let us know what you think about the book!

Thank you,

Sufiya Pathan

Dunkin Jalki

An excerpt from a recent review of the book

“…the volume actually has a remarkable originality to the extent that it leads a very tight and wide-ranging criticism to show the great number of uncertainties, inconsistencies, pre-understanding present in the discourse on caste. The individual ideas in the book can be debated, as is normal, but the spirit that animates it is, in my opinion, fruitful. In various fields of knowledge, at a certain point, standard versions of the discourse are formed, which are disseminated from author to author, and transmitted from generation to generation. In these cases it is necessary to redo the path and the greatest merit of the book, with its radical nature, it seems to me to be to compel the path…. You may agree or disagree with some or many of the ideas advocated in the book, but you will have gained a better understanding and theoretical accuracy of the problems, even if only for the need to reaffirm or recalibrate some of your ideas in response to the thesis advocated in the book.” 

Ref: Domenico Francavilla’s untitled review in Quaderni di diritto e politica ecclesiastica, Rivista trimestrale, speciale/2017, pp. 216-218, doi: 10.1440/88475.


An excerpt from an article that quotes from our article in the book

Dr Dunkin Jalki and Dr Sufiya Pathan at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CIRHS), Ujire, have studied the reports on caste published by media and activist groups for past several years. In their research published in 2017, they identify a clear trend in these reports to cherry-pick data made public by the police department to sensationalise and make exaggerated claims of incidence and rise in caste violence. They note that one of the strategies used by some scholars and activists “to puff-up figures and claim that caste violence is always on the rise is to use absolute total figures.”

From “Have crimes against SCs and STs increased of late? Here are the facts“, (Financial Express, May 2, 2018).


An excerpt from a review of the book

“In years to come, this book will be recognised as a seminal work: it offers a unique research pathway that can enable a clearer understanding of Indian society and culture.”

From “A Groundbreaking Work That Will Open New Avenues For Indic Research“, (Swarajya, Oct 05, 2018).


Table of contents (8 chapters) Caste book cover 1.png

  • Introduction: Caste Studies and the Apocryphal Elephant — 1-30
  • Caste-Based Reservation and Social Justice in India — 31-55
  • Are There Caste Atrocities in India? What the Data Can and Cannot Tell Us — 57-84
  • Dissimulating on Caste in British Law — 85-126
  • Were Shramana and Bhakti Movements Against the Caste System? — 127-172
  • A Nation of Tribes and Priests: The Jews and the Immorality of the Caste System — 173-220
  • The Aryans and the Ancient System of Caste — 221-251
  • Afterword — 253-261

Caste book cover 2

More details and the front matter are here!

E-copies are available here: Google Books; Amazon; Springer.


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