Tabish Khair


Rephrasing Toni Morrison' one may claim that the imaginative and historical terrain upon which most Indian English writers journey is in a large measure shaped by the obscured presence of the 'castial'2 other. Statements to the contrary,3 insisting on the meaninglessness of caste to the modern Indian identity, are themselves full of meaning. The world, Morrison has stated, does not become raceless or will not become unracialized by assertion. Similarly, India will not become casteless or unstratified on caste lines merely by assertion. However, the Indian English writer's attitude to caste is exactly that- assertive and evasive; and, sometimes, pitying or derisive. In that way it is slightly different from the white American attitude to the racial 'other' as examined by Morrison. The Indian upper caste attitude is more one of dismissal than of subdued confrontation. This is in keeping with the history of casteist exploitation in India, as this exploitation has been based on religion, apathy and a stable social order and, unlike Western slavery-based racism, not on direct force or confrontation.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.