The Pariah Problem
Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India
Columbia University Press 2014
New Books in Hindu StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in SociologyNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network November 2, 2016 Ian Cook
The so called “Pariah Problem” emerged in public consciousness in the 1890s in India as state officials, missionaries and “upper”caste landlords, among others, struggled to understood the situation of Dalits (those subordinated populations once called untouchables). In The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion, and the Social in Modern India (Columbia University Press, 2014) Rupa Viswanath unpacks the creation and application of this so called “problem.”The interview explores the ways in which land, labour and ritual combined in producing the Pariah and the affect Protestant missionaries had in reshaping Pariah-ness, as well as the role of the colonial state and changes in house site ownership among other issues. Amazingly rich in detail and theoretically dynamic throughout, the book is relevant to numerous discussions in present day India and beyond.