Identity and Identification in India: Defining the by Laura Dudley Jenkins

By Laura Dudley Jenkins

Can a kingdom empower its electorate by way of classifying them? Or do reservation regulations make stronger the very different types they're intended to get rid of? Indian reservation regulations on govt jobs, legislative seats and collage admissions for deprived teams, like affirmative motion rules in other places, are in keeping with the idea that spotting workforce differences in society is important to subvert those differences. but the professional identity of eligible teams has unintentional side-effects on identification politics. Bridging theories which emphasize the fluidity of identities and people which spotlight the application of group-based mobilizations and regulations, this ebook exposes didactic enforcement of categorizations, whereas spotting the social and political profits facilitated by way of group-based concepts.

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The new People of India project is an attempt to move beyond the colonial emphasis on India as a place distinct from the West and divided internally. Yet, this project embodies the ongoing tension between caste and nation, as it simultaneously categorizes people as did Risley and, whenever possible, emphasizes national unity and linkages. In the following comparison, I find several continuities. Even post-colonial anthropologists espousing national unity can be haunted by the ethnic and racial categories bequeathed by colonialism (Young 1985).

Young observes that “the standard presumption was of discrete, bounded groups,” and that “[i]n the extreme case, the colonial state veritably breathed life into quite novel categories of identity” (Young 1985:74). Colonial anthropology influenced the societies under study, including their anthropological norms and practices, which, in turn, continue to influence these societies. 2 In the Indian context, Gyan Prakash and Nicholas Dirks have been influential critics of the use of the categories of caste, tribe and race by colonial ethnographers.

8 This pattern of repeated surveillance and investigation of citizens’ identity claims is one way the state may reinforce caste or tribal distinctions in communities and workplaces, in the very process of implementing policies meant to undermine discrimination. Police inquiries in hometowns, letters sent to universities or employers, and announcements calling for public comment about the identities of people applying for certificates both publicize and tarnish their status. The use of police to investigate at the local level could intimidate applicants for certificates and imply to their neighbors that they are not trustworthy.

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