Reconsidering Untouchability

Chamars and Dalit History in North India

Ramnarayan S. Rawat


Permanent Black, Hyderabad, 2012

Language: English

272 pages

140 x 216 mm

Price INR 595.00
Book Club Price INR 506.00
INR 595.00
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Often identified as leatherworkers or characterized as a criminal caste, the Chamars of North India have long been stigmatized as untouchables. In this pathbreaking study, Ramnarayan S. Rawat shows that in fact the majority of Chamars have always been agriculturalists, and their association with the ritually impure occupation of leatherworking has largely been constructed through Hindu, colonial, and postcolonial representations of untouchability.

Rawat undertakes a comprehensive reconsideration of the history, identity, and politics of this important Dalit group. Using Dalit vernacular literature, local-level archival sources, and interviews in Dalit neighborhoods, he reveals a previously unrecognized Dalit movement which has flourished in North India from the earliest decades of the twentieth century and which has recently achieved major political successes.

Ramnarayan S. Rawat

Ramnarayan S. Rawat is Associate Professor of History at the University of Delaware and the author of Reconsidering Untouchability: Chamars and Dalit History in North India