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

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The Pariahs and Missionaries of South India

The Pariah Problem: Caste, Religion and the Social in Modern India Delhi: Navayana, 2015 (First published by Columbia University Press, 2014), pp 396,495.

Modernity of Slavery: Struggles against Caste Inequality in Colonial Kerala by P Sanal Mohan, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015; pp 368, 1,195.

A review of the two monographs on agrarian servitude, undoubtedly, leads one to take a fresh look at the debate on slavery which emerged in the US almost a century after the end of the Civil War. But the two monographs have very little to do with new world slavery, since they are concerned with caste oppression and servitude in 19th and 20th century south India. While there were differences between the south Indian servitude and its Caribbean and African forms, the three each in their own way were influenced by colonial modernity, symbolised by the “linear modern European time.”1 Rupa Viswanath and P Sanal Mohan do not engage with these broader perspectives hinging around the global or multinational views on the origins and development of slavery, but their arguments reveal that, in some ways, they are aware of the complexities of comparative history witnessed in most contemporary scholarly writings on slavery.2

Caste and Slavery

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