Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Bhawani Buswala

PhD Candidate in Anthropology
Summer Fellow 2014


Project Title: Undignified Names: Language Practices and Caste in North India

In this summer research I examine the use of deformed name address forms for the "low" caste individuals as a normalized caste practice in everyday oral discourse in north India. In my prior experiences in Rajasthan, my interactions with the members of various low castes indicated how their names often undergo deliberate deformation by the higher castes and this process becomes a key language practice for insult and humiliation. I focus on names as instrument of insult and humiliation in their pragmatic-linguistic context and examine how these become important speech acts through which caste order is maintained, contested, and reproduced.