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

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Re-envisioning Experience, Caste, and the Everyday Social—I

Forking Paths

The attempt here is to think with, and systematically through, Gopal Guru and Sundar Sarukkai’s ambitious work, Experience, Caste, and the Everyday Social (2019). Addressing the two configurations of thought underlying the work—namely the focus on “sensing” as central to the conceptualisation of the social and the idea of “the everyday social”—the paper tries to capture the movement of the text and the conceptual manoeuvres underscoring it. The challenges for our attempt at theorising caste are highlighted, even as new pathways are forged for understanding the problem of caste in India.



In accounts of proliferating concepts, it is often the endlessness of repetition, the scattering of points that result, the networks that take one everywhere, that are of interest. I dwell instead on the point of bifurcation, the moment of division, which need not take a binary form but very often does. It is the moment at which a distinction between terms could lead analysis down different routes.

—Marilyn Strathern (2011: 90)

Near the start of their ambitious book Experience, Caste, and the Everyday Social (henceforth ECES), Gopal Guru and Sundar Sarukkai quite categorically observe that the “tendency to not take the everyday social seriously is a of the intrinsic problem of the social sciences, as well as of the location of the individual within the social” (p 3).1 The point, of course, is well made, and well taken in the context in which it is inscribed, although a constitutive part of the problem that we wish to study here—the “forking paths” of our main title—is precisely the integuments of this formulation and the ways in which it gets to be embodied in the work as a whole. Consistent with this manoeuvre, we shall seek to both inhabit the movement of this text, coming to grips with the problem that it formulates and the conceptual theoretical framework that it sets up for the purpose, while also actively striving to “re-envision” the problematic that it defines and orders.

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Updated On : 25th Jul, 2021
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