Embattled Identities

Embattled Identities

Product ID: 7177

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Author: Malavika Kasturi
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2002
Language: English
Pages: 304
ISBN/UPC (if available): 019565787X


This book investigates how Rajput kinship structures and caste identities in nineteenth-century north India were reconstituted in response to colonial ideologies, political culture, and martial realities.

It seeks to argue that as the British circumscribed the authority and influence of elite Rajput lineages and clans in the public arena, the family and household emerged as central sites of struggle over the redefinition of masculinity, class, and status. It suggests that social boundaries and hierarchies in the imagined Rajput community were transformed as much by conflict within the embattled family as by tensions in the public arena.

The author locates these themes against the backdrop of changing gender and property relations, social hierarchies, and state formation. More specifically, she focuses on how transformations in gender and power structures within Rajput lineages claiming high status were effected through marriage strategies, female infanticide, and by manipulating property and inheritance rights. Further, then central role played by feuding, banditry, and rebellion in reshaping contested boundaries of rank and power, is examined in great detail.

The book also demonstrates how British attitudes towards the primitive and fearless Rajputs were integrally linked to strategic considerations such as the rule of the law, criminality, sexuality, race, and caste. In exploring the Rajput encounter with British colonialism in north India, this significant work offers a fresh perspective on caste by revealing its myriad linkages to kinship and gender.

The book will interest historians of colonialism, gender, caste, and the family in South Asia.