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The Decline of the Caste Question
Jogendranath Mandal and the Defeat of Dalit Politics in Bengal

$99.99 (C)

  • Date Published: September 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108417761

$ 99.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Utilises Jogendranath Mandal's private papers and freshly discovered archival materials
    • Traverses the watershed of Independence in 1947, and joins themes often treated distinctly, such as caste, partition, communalism, and the transfer of power
    • Presents a new explanation for the puzzling absence of caste-based politics in Bengal
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘This pioneering and probing study of Jogendranath Mandal and his political predicament adds a completely new dimension to the history of Bengal. It brings out in detail some enduring caste-conflicts that marked the politics of the partition of the province and that have so far gone unacknowledged in mainstream histories of the subcontinent. An original and lasting contribution to modern South Asian history.’ Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago

    ‘With lucidity and passion, Sen recovers a profoundly important history of Bengal Dalit self-assertion between 1930s and 1960s. Focussing on a remarkable leader, it grows into the biography of a 'general category': provocatively arguing that Dalit politics was crushed by, and not integrated into, mainstream nationalism.’ Tanika Sarkar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi

    ‘This is a crucially important book that will help solve the mystery of the disappearance of the caste question from West Bengal's politics. Focusing on the career of Jogendranath Mandal, the foremost political leader of the Namasudra caste in the 1940s, Sen has brought to our attention much new archival material and raised some provocative questions.’ Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University, New York, and Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108417761
    • length: 316 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 157 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.62kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 1 table
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    Introduction: rethinking castelessness in mid-20th-century Bengal
    1. Jogendranath Mandal, the politics of caste, and provincial autonomy, 1932–37
    2. Representation, education and agrarian reform: Jogendranath Mandal and the demands of Dalit politics, 1937–43
    3. A separate political existence: the making of the Bengal Scheduled Castes Federation, 1943–45
    4. 'No matter how, Jogendranath had to be defeated': the Scheduled Castes Federation and the partition of Bengal, 1945–47
    5. Betrayed expectations: East Pakistan and West Bengal, 1947–50
    6. 'A Caste Hindu State': Jogendranath Mandal and the forced removal of Dalit refugees, 1950–64
    7. The decline of the caste question: the defeat of Dalit politics in Bengal, 1952–68
    Conclusion: '… the most casteist society in India'

  • Author

    Dwaipayan Sen, Amherst College, Massachusetts
    Dwaipayan Sen is Assistant Professor of South Asian History at Amherst College, Massachusetts.

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