TitleCaste, family and politics in northern India during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
NameNarayan, Rochisha (author), Chatterjee, Indrani (chair), Guha, Sumit (internal member), Kaplan, Temma (internal member), Forbes, Geraldine (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Families--India--Vārānasi (Uttar Pradesh),
India--Vārānasi (Uttar Pradesh)--Politics and government--18th century,
India--Vārānasi (Uttar Pradesh)--Politics and government--19th century,
Vārānasi (Uttar Pradesh, India)--Social conditions—18th century,
Vārānasi (Uttar Pradesh, India)--Social conditions—19th century
DescriptionMy dissertation reconstructs the interlocking histories of family, caste and state-formation in colonial north India. I illustrate that eighteenth-century rulers of Banaras in north India established lineage-based states by forming multi-caste and polygynous marital networks. I argue that these practices were challenged as the establishment of colonial rule became tied to matters of inheritance in the Banaras polity. Eighteenth-century colonial rule, in collaboration with upper-caste patriarchal authorities, reshaped familial practices through intersecting articulations of patrilineality and endogamy. Such articulations shaped early colonial law. Interventions in family matters through colonial law marginalized women’s access to property in the late eighteenth century. Eighteenth-century land-revenue policies, which were based upon colonial exigencies, led to widespread transfers of rights in land from traditional landed elites to literate service caste groups comprising of writers, clerks and merchants who had risen in power through service under the colonial state. I demonstrate that the same policies upheld upper-caste male control over land at the expense of female kin who lost titles to land rights, thereby strengthening hierarchies between women and men. Nevertheless, I illustrate that age-based and caste hierarchies could enable upper-caste, elderly women from traditional landed elite families and upwardly mobile literate service caste households to harness the wealth and power of male kin. Colonial restructuring of the political economy therefore benefited upper-caste women at a subterranean level while simultaneously reinforcing caste hierarchies between women. During the nineteenth century, literate service caste groups, who had benefited from colonial land-revenue policies, insinuated themselves into the higher echelons of the four-fold Varna order through elaborate patronage practices. These included sponsorship of public ceremonials, buildings and education. By the late nineteenth century, their caste-based competitive energies intersected with nationalist politics, which literate service caste groups came to lead. I demonstrate that nationalist and caste-based engagements were hinged upon normative and lived reconfigurations of households as endogamous units. This was to the marginalization of lower-caste kin who could only find representation and place in the upper-caste family as laboring, lower-caste servants. I therefore illustrate that such caste-based labor was politicized by nationalists as worthy of defense against the British.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Rochisha Narayan
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.