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Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India. 1st Paperback Edition Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691088952
ISBN-10: 0691088950
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Is India's caste system the remnant of ancient India's social practices or the result of the historical relationship between India and British colonial rule? Dirks (history and anthropology, Columbia Univ.) elects to support the latter view. Adhering to the school of Orientalist thought promulgated by Edward Said and Bernard Cohn, Dirks argues that British colonial control of India for 200 years pivoted on its manipulation of the caste system. He hypothesizes that caste was used to organize India's diverse social groups for the benefit of British control. His thesis embraces substantial and powerfully argued evidence. It suffers, however, from its restricted focus to mainly southern India and its near polemic and obsessive assertions. Authors with differing views on India's ethnology suffer near-peremptory dismissal. Nevertheless, this groundbreaking work of interpretation demands a careful scholarly reading and response. John F. Riddick, Central Michigan Univ. Lib., Mt. Pleasant
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Inside Flap

"Massively documented and brilliantly argued, Castes of Mind is a study in true contrapuntal interpretation. Nicholas Dirks is a subtle unraveler of the dense, many-layered fabric of India's colonial and modern history as they converge in the idea and practice of caste. Even for the nonspecialist, the results of this gripping book are remarkable to behold. No one before Dirks has examined the ways in which caste gathers from as well as ignores the complex realities and hierarchies of Indian society. Neither reductive nor schematic, the notion of caste that emerges here is genuinely original."--Edward W. Said --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; 1st Paperback Edition edition (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691088950
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691088952
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very interesting argument, but incredibly dense and often unreadable at times when Dirks decides to string together many multi-syllable adjectives that require a dictionary.
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By A Customer on June 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
A lucid and though provoking work, Castes of Mind would be close to THE authoritative work on the construction of caste. However the boldness of Dirks's argument, mainly that British rule is responsible for the state of caste today, raises some serious questions, which are not easily answered. Firstly, the book is heavily focused on Southern India, which raises the question of how did this play out in the North, and with whom. The colonial state was not the only actor, and the role of Christian Missionaries in the construction of caste is instructive: no matter how hard they tried to rid the Gangetic plain of caste, it was met with no avail. Secondly, his use of archival material is rather concerning. One one chapter relies heavily on archival material, whlst the remainder is dangerously rhetorical. And lastly, the epilogue raises serious concerns regarding similar scholarship and other interpretations on colonial rule in India. Dirks dismisses offhand essentially any work which might be remotely classified as 'neo-colonial', although he does not seem to quite understand what this concept means. What is most dangerous however is that Dirks dangerously approaches a moral judgement on the British Raj, which is a taboo in the historical profession.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's always a pattern with history and the curtains are pulled away to view the class system in another civilization.
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By A Customer on October 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
The british did not invent caste but they exploited it to the hilt to divide the pluralistic Indian society.
The thesis of the book matters. The thought provoking nature of the book is more valuable than its contents.
Columbia and Chicago are doing a valuable job of undoing or atleast explaining the british (and german) rape on indian history.
A thinking that an objective history can be written, like conducting a laboratory experiment where an observer is independent of the thing that is observed, is a major fallacy . No more attacks of scientific methods on humanities please!
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Format: Paperback
It never went down as evil as the christian caste system of Slavery, Lynchings and the Holocaust

- Inquisiti0n in Spain and Goa
- C_rusades
- Ethn!c cIeansing of American Indians
- SIavery
- Iynchings
- The Ant! Chinese league of the Americas
- Jim Cr0we
- The HoI0caust. Read the ant!semit!Ic rantings of Martin Iuther the founder of the Protestant movement that was the impetus for the HoIocaust.
- Separate churches for bIacks and whites in the bible belt.
- BI00d Iibel. Read in Wikipedia about this.. OMG! What eviI!
- Rwwanda ethn!c CIeansing
- Ant! G _ay kiIIings in African countries like Uganda on the instigation of the Southern Bapt!st EvangeIicals
- Doctrine of Discovery
- Black christian caste church and white christian caste church in the Bible Belt
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