Eminent Indologists have stated that it is inappropriate to use the word ‘caste’ in non-Hindu contexts. Despite such warnings numerous Africanists have used the term, with varying degrees of imprecision. In this paper I first outline different emphases which have appeared in the literature concerning caste in India; then discuss several examples of hierarchical systems in Africa which have been described as ‘caste’. Finally, I focus upon my own fieldwork data concerning the Dime of South-West Ethiopia, amongst whom there operates a system which can, I believe, be unequivocally labelled caste.
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