Who is a Brahmin? The Politics of Identity in India

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    Manohar CSH

Brahmins, originally in charge of the sacred sphere, followed different paths, creating therefore, within the community, many subcultures and ways of apprehending the world. From textual definitions, to socio-economic adjustments, political influences and historical evolution, they went through multiple processes of identity building. The Brahmin identity is indeed not an absolute notion. The various manifestations of Brahmanical identities have to be taken in contexts defined in connection with specific expressions of otherness. This book aims at understanding this dialogue between identity and otherness, creating phenomena of differentiation. The relations to a Brahmin model, the strategies to remain part of the elite as well as the discourses on secularism and casteism and identity repercussions of reservation policies in favour of backward populations are some of the factors which can elucidate the construction of such separate identities. So who is a Brahmin? This study questions the notion of Brahmanical identity in India today, through the contextualisation of discourses coming from contemporary urban middle class Brahmins settled in Delhi, Agra and Chennai. It falls within the framework of an analysis of the cultural context of politics.

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