Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Caste in India: Origin and Practice

 Course Objectives 

  • To understand the historical origins of caste through scriptural sources.
  • To understand and engage with early academic writing on caste and its implications for future studies on caste.
  • An understanding of how socio-economic development has/has not impacted lower castes in India.
  • Alternative theories on understanding caste through the works of leaders of anti-caste movements.
  • Locating caste in the contemporary context through key events and processes. 

 Teaching Methodology 

  • The course will use classroom teaching/discussion in conjunction with out of class participation.
  • Readings that would be given will be marked as either essential for class or optional by the course instructor. It is requested that students read the same to augment the classroom lectures.
  • The Instructors would use visual material in terms of various mediums. Film Screenings would serve as a framework for the various issues discussed in class.
  • Attendance for both the classes and film screenings is compulsory

 Course Outline 

S. No. Topic Hours
1. Origin I- Vedas to Manusmriti 
  • History of migration
  • Philsophical background
  • Transformation from Varna to Jati
2. Origin II- Manusmriti to Arthashastra
  • Entanglement with karma and ‘jati-isation’
  • Oppression of Dharma
  • Purity and danger
3. Early Academic Engagement with caste
  • Colonial anthropology and its views on caste
  • Structural functionalism and its dominance in caste studies
4. Caste and Modernity
  • The institutionalization of Sociology and the new caste-modernity paradigm 
  • Alternative theories- Phule, Ambedkar and Periyar
5. Current debates on caste in India
  • Caste and conversion
  • Reservations
  • Caste violence
  • Caste movements in contemporary India