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SOAS South Asia Institute

Jaanta Nahin Mera Baap Kaun Hain?! Knowing “our” fathers, knowing “their” fathers

Ramesh Bairy Charles Wallace India Trust fellow 2013-2014)

Date: 21 May 2014Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 21 May 2014Time: 3:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College BuildingsRoom: 4429

Type of Event: Seminar

Series: SSAI Seminar Programme


Intervening into the recent publicly orchestrated debates on the ‘resilience’ of caste in India, and in particular with regard to concerns about ‘merit’ vis-à-vis caste, this paper intends to make a simple point – that who we are (and what we can and do become) continue to be rather centrally marked and influenced by who our ‘fathers’ are.  In counterposing three instances – modes really – of representing the present that play up the all-too-familiar ridiculing of certain types of people and their claims over multiple resources, against the much-ignored trajectory of the Brahmin community in the south Indian state of Karnataka in the late colonial period into the present, the paper is an invitation to complicate the comforting discursive terrains of ‘merit’, ‘individual worth’ and ‘resoluteness’, and thereby the very idea of ‘individuality’.


Ramesh Bairy (Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai) is this year's Charles Wallace India Trust fellow 2013-2014.

Ramesh's research focuses on the structures and meanings of contemporary caste.  He has worked on the Brahmins of Karnataka, south India, and is the author of Being Brahmin, Being Modern: Exploring the Lives of Caste Today (Routledge, 2010). He is now, among other things, is interested in exploring the contemporary trajectories of the institution of the 'Hindu' matha in Karnataka. He intends to spend much time in the British library but also keen to get a sense of the everydayness of the academia here at SOAS.

Organiser: SOAS South Asia Institute

Contact email: ssai@soas.ac.uk

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