Caste: The Emergence of the South Asian Social System

Author:

Morton Klass

Publisher:

MANOHAR PUBLISHERS AND DISTRIBUTORS

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Publisher

MANOHAR PUBLISHERS AND DISTRIBUTORS

Publication Year 2020
ISBN-13

9789388540827

ISBN-10 9388540824
Binding

Hardcover

Edition FIRST
Number of Pages 237 Pages
Language (English)
Dimensions (Cms) 22x14x2
Weight (grms) 348

How and why did the caste system emerge in South Asia? Why do con­temporary anthropologists and Indologists experience so much difficulty with this problem?


Morton Klass addresses both of these questions in this book, and the result is an intellectual adventure story, an essay in ethnohistorical deduction and reconstruction.


Klass begins by examining the assumptions underlying the older explanations of the origin of caste, tracing their roots in dubious history, ethnocentrism, and outmoded theory. Then, using contemporary anthro­pological writings on ecology, economy, social structure, and cultural evolution, he develops a scenario in which caste emerges as a trans­formation of an earlier clan structure that until now has been considered an evolutionary ‘dead end’.


His radically new explanation is the result of a pioneering effort in theoretical synthesis. By employing the tools of what he calls `eclectic anthropology` – an approach frequently attacked by proponents of more rigid and exclusionary strategies – he brings together elements from the seemingly unconnectable approaches of such major theorists as Claude Levi-Strauss, Marvin Harris, and Karl Polanyi. Caste offers a challenge to scholars to free themselves of their theoretical fetters, to open themselves to ideas from all corners of their discipline.

Morton Klass

Morton Klass was Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College, Columbia University. He conducted field work in India and among people of South Asian descent in the West Indies. Among his publications are: East Indians in Trinidad, From Field to Factory: Community Structure and Industrialization in West Bengal, and Singing with Sai Baba: The Politics of Revitalization in Trinidad.
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