This revisionist history of caste politics in twentieth-century Bengal argues that the decline of this form of political mobilization in the region was as much the result of coercion as of consent. It traces this process through the political career of Jogendranath Mandal, the leader of the Dalit movement in eastern India and a prominent figure in the history of India and Pakistan, over the transition of Partition and Independence. Utilising Mandal's private papers, this study reveals both the strength and achievements of his movement for Dalit recognition, as well as the major challenges and constraints he encountered. Departing from analyses that have stressed the role of integration, Dwaipayan Sen demonstrates how a wide range of coercions shaped the eventual defeat of Dalit politics in Bengal. The region's acclaimed 'castelessness' was born of the historical refusal of Mandal's struggle to pose the caste question.
Dipesh Chakrabarty - University of Chicago
Tanika Sarkar - Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
Partha Chatterjee - Columbia University, New York, and Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta