Watch: Conversations on Caste and Race

Publish with ISS
April 27, 2021
โ€œMasquerade: Scripturalizing Modernities Through Black Fleshโ€
August 9, 2021

Watch: Conversations on Caste and Race

In ๐˜Š๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ: ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜–๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜–๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜‹๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต๐˜ด, Isabel Wilkerson brings together the freighted categories of โ€œraceโ€ and โ€œcasteโ€ and argues that, while the two are not synonymous, they โ€œcan and do coexist in the same culture and serve to reinforce each other.โ€ Wilkerson suggests that racism is the visible manifestation of a hidden and insidious caste system, a system of social domination that uses human differences in order to construct a ranking of human value. โ€œRace, in the United States, is the visible agent of the unseen force of caste. Caste is the bones, race the skin.โ€ Wilkerson examines the โ€œmodern-day caste protocolsโ€ in the โ€œinner workings of American hierarchyโ€ in which she makes unsettling comparisons between Americaโ€™s four-hundred-year-old racial hierarchies, Indiaโ€™s three-thousand-year-old caste system, and Nazi Germanyโ€™s racializing project of Aryanism.

In this talk Vincent Wimbush interrogates the ways in which the categories of race, caste, hierarchy, and difference coincide, collide, and collude in Wilkersonโ€™s work, reflecting out of his own studies of the ways in which Black communities in the United States have historically negotiated meaning and power through engaging, resisting, and transgressing the sociocultural formations woven around racializing regimes of signification.

Amit Ahuja responds to Wimbushโ€™s talk and reflects on Wilkersonโ€™s work from the perspective of his studies of the processes of inclusion and exclusion at work in caste hierarchies, ethnic politics, and racialized subaltern groups in India.

This discussion was hosted by ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ ๐—›๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฑ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ด๐—ฒ, Professor of Religions Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.

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