Caste, Protest and Identity in Colonial India
The Namasudras of Bengal, 1872-1947
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Movement by low-caste Hindu groups and their struggles for social and political recognition have been the subject of a number of academic studies in recent years - in anthropology and religious and political studies as well as history. The Namasudras of Bengal, however, represent a particularly interesting and important case, given their standing as the largest Hindu caste in eastern Bengal before Partition and their apparent lack of a single, shared identity before the late 19th century. Bandyopadhyay provides an intelligent and well-researched study of the Namasudras from their emergence as a census-defined community in 1872 to their disintegration with the Partition of 1947. The author makes very extensive use of Bengali tracts, pamphlets and newspapers as well as English materials (including official and archival materials). Bandyopadhyay gives an in-depth narrative and provides an analysis of the Namasudras that is both sensitive to their internal differentiation and their place in the wider political and social context of Bengal and India.
'It is the best book on caste to come out in recent times. It brings together the position of the historian with that of an anthropologist, political scientist and sociologist, to locate caste as a specific relationship with Bengal society.' - John McGuire, Asian Studies