ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Uma ChakravartiSubscribe to Uma Chakravarti

Conceptualising Brahmanical Patriarchy in Early India

Caste hierarchy and gender hierarchy are the organising principles of the brahmanical social order and are closely interconnected. This article explores the relationship between caste and gender, focusing on what is possibly the central factor for the subordination of the upper caste woman: the need for effective sexual control over such women to maintain not only patrilineal succession but also caste purity the institution unique to Hindu society.

Khurja Riots 1990-91-Understanding the Conjuncture

Khurja Riots 1990-91 Understanding the Conjuncture Uma Chakravarti, Prem Chowdhury, Pradip Dutta, Zoya Hasan, Kumkum Sangari, Tanika Sarkar Elections have become an increasingly central element in the conjunctures which have produced communal riots. In Khurja in 1990-91 tension and violence mattered much more to Hindu communal parties than to other national political parties who have also been responsible for using them for electoral gain. Given the long-term strategy of the BJP to capture power at the centre, the Ramjanmabhoomi campaign alone was insufficient: though it could demonstrate that Hindu sentiments had not been 'respected' by the state, it could not establish that Hindus were physically endangered. Therefore while the campaign organised Hindu consciousness and 'ideological' needs around a central symbol and a projected act of violence, the accompanying riots tried to orchestrate the need for 'protecting' and 'preserving' Hindu interests against the projected threat from Muslims.

History and the Social Sciences

remarkably in organising the Bardoli Satyagraha which gave him the title of Sardar, He eliminated dissent from within the Gujarat Congress and established himself as the Sarvochcha Neta, i e, the supreme leader. Besides the existing social structure, local idiom and dominant socio- religious ideology which perpetuated unjust social relationships among the classes and between the sexes were used by Patel in mobilising the masses for political objectives. It should be mentioned here that his total command in dealing with intra-party factional fights was confined to only two or three states. More important, can the same strategy work now, and if so, with what consequences? Many of the strategies of Patel in winning elections have been used in post- Independence India. The results are there for all of us to experience. The author raises the question: What could a Patel do to renovate or lubricate social and other institutions that had worked in the colonial framework but HISTORY is today probably the most dynamic discipline in the academic world occupying a position in intellectual life which it has never known before. The dynamism of the subject lies in its ability to draw with equal ease from all the social sciences. No longer hesitantly claiming social science status as it was doing some years ago, history is now dominating the social sciences. Its attraction is reflected in the capacity of several young scholars in the city of Delhi to resist the temptation of a secure career in the administrative services and face the prospect of long years of insecurity, working in temporary positions in outlying colleges. Some young scholars have even chosen to go off to work in the small towns of India to experiment with integrating the new trends in history into the teaching of the subject at the earliest school level.

In Search of Our Past

Women, like other subordinate groups in society are among the muted or even silent voices of history. They have been excluded both as actors and as authors from featuring in history as they should and remain one of its most neglected subjects. The exercise of rewriting the past has been confined to invisibilising women: their presence has only been negatively registered, mainly through a vast silence. However, it is necessary to draw attention to the fact that while in general women have been invisible in historical writing this invisibility varies vastly over time and space according to differences in social and cultural practices. The Indian situation represents an example of this relative visibility of women in historical writing particularly with regard to 'ancient' India wherein historians created a certain space for women in the reconstruction of the past, but the space conceded to them existed only within clearly defined parameters as this review will show. In this paper we undertake, first, a broadly representative rather than comprehensive historiographical survey of studies on women in early India. The survey does not concentrate on factual details, important though these may be, but on the preconceived notions or assumptions which may have determined the kinds of facts considered historically relevant. Second, attention is to paid to the kinds of explanations offered for changes in women's status. And finally we examine possible alternatives.

An Assortment of Essays

of Islam clearly belong to different social classes. The class composition and character of these protagonists of Islamic ideology has not been deeply studied by the author. Science is an incisive inquiry, and penetration into the unknown and mysterious things. It is not a mere description and narration of certain functions or roles of political agents. A scientific enquiry must trace out the trends and tendencies emerging in the system.

Towards a Historical Sociology of Stratification in Ancient India-Evidence from Buddhist Sources

Towards a Historical Sociology of Stratification in Ancient India Evidence from Buddhist Sources Uma Chakravarti Sociological analyses of stratification in India have in recent years raised new issues relating to the caste system, particularly its existence at the level of the infrastructure. But in the existing state of knowledge the issue of whether caste is infrastructure or super-structure cannot be subjected to a meaningful analysis because of the inadequacies of the data used by scholars who have relied primarily on secondary sources. Before one can argue that caste constituted infrastructure, or was part of the superstructure, we need to have a full-fledged diachronic study of caste which combines Indology with history and anthropology: there is need for both chronological clarity and the rigorous use of sources. There is also a need to show the relation between caste categories and other social and economic categories over time.


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