Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Structural Mechanism, Law, and the Dalit Question in India

  • Dag-Erik BERG (a1)

Abstract

This paper argues that the Dalit situation of caste-based oppression in India could be characterized by the enduring co-existence of upward social mobility and atrocities. While being a common-sense understanding, the paper suggests that the relation between upward social mobility and enduring atrocity could be referred to as a “structural mechanism” in the Dalit situation. The concept is used to explain the Dalit problem. Moreover, this structural mechanism sheds more light on developments and discursive breaks in the legal context. A central lesson in the post-colonial period is that the problem of “untouchables” could not simply be conceptualized as a problem of civil law and untouchability. Rather, the problem of atrocities created demands and a need to make caste-based atrocities a concern for criminal law. Ambedkar’s significance as a symbol of Dalit assertion could be viewed in connection with the structural mechanism of Dalit achievements and caste-based exclusion.

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All
*

Associated Research Scholar, UiB Global, University of Bergen. I am grateful to the peer reviewers of the AJLS for providing comments that I found very helpful in developing this paper. Earlier versions of this paper have been presented at the “Terminus workshop” entitled “Dalits and Muslims in the History of India’s State Formation,” Bergen, 6–7 November 2012, and the workshop “Religion, Poverty, Politics,” 21–22 February 2013, organized by CROP, UiB Global, and CMI, Bergen. It was presented at the Centre for Ambedkar Studies, Central University of Hyderabad, 26 July 2013; Centre for Law and Governance, Jawaharlal University, 2 August 2013, and the “Caste Today” Conference, University of Oslo, 12 September 2013. Thanks to audiences on these occasions for their comments and reactions. The paper draws on my PhD thesis, “Dalits and the Constitutional State,” and Professor Bruce Kapferer’s input in the process of that work. Thanks to Mona Joksch Berg, Sylvia Duerr, Faisal Devji, Jason Glynos, Anders Reiersgaard, and Knut Ågotnes for their comments and help while writing this paper, and to Han Peng Ho for copy-editing. I remain responsible for the content and any shortcomings.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Balagopal, K. (1991) “Post-Chundur and Other Chundurs.” 26 Economic and Political Weekly 23992405.
Basu, Durga Das (2001) Shorter Constitution of India, Nagpur: Wadhwa and Company.
Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams (1988) “Race, Reform, and Retrenchment: Transformation and Legitimation in Antidiscrimination Law.” 101 Harvard Law Review 13311387.
Dirks, Nicholas B. (1993) The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Dirks, Nicholas B. (2001) Castes of Mind: Colonialism and the Making of Modern India, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Dumont, Louis (1980) Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and its Implications, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Elster, Jon (1999) Alchemies of the Mind: Rationality and the Emotions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Elster, Jon (2007) Explaining Social Behavior: More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Foucault, Michel (1983) “The Subject and Power.” in H.L. Dreyfus & P. Rabinow, eds., Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 208–26.
Foucault, Michel (1989) The Archaeology of Knowledge, London: Routledge.
Galanter, Marc (1997) Law and Society in Modern India, Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Glynos, Jason, & Howarth, David R. (2007) Logics of Critical Explanation in Social and Political Theory, New York: Routledge.
Hedström, Peter, & Ylikoski, Petri (2010) “Causal Mechanisms in the Social Sciences.” 36 Annual Review of Sociology 4967.
Jaffrelot, Christophe (2005) Dr Ambedkar and Untouchability: Analysing and Fighting Caste, London: Hurst.
Little, Daniel (2009) “The Heterogeneous Social: New Thinking About the Foundations of the Social Sciences.” in C. Mantzavinos, ed., Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 154178.
Omvedt, Gail (2004) Ambedkar: Towards an Enlightened India, New Delhi: Penguin Books India.
Pandey, Gyanendra (2013) A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste and Difference in India and the United States, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rao, Anupama (2009) The Caste Question: Dalits and the Politics of Modern India, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Teltumbde, Anand (2010) The Persistence of Caste: The Khairlanji Murders and India's Hidden Apartheid, New Delhi: Navayana Publishing.
Weisskopf, Thomas E. (2004) Affirmative Action in the United States and India: A Comparative Perspective, London: Routledge.
Zelliot, Eleanor (2001) From Untouchable to Dalit: Essays on the Ambedkar Movement, New Delhi: Manohar Publishers.

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed