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

Caste, Democracy and the Postcolonial State: A View from Bihar | Jeffrey Witsoe, Union College

February 3, 2014

In this talk, Jeffrey Witsoe explores what the politics of caste reveal about the dynamics of India’s democracy. Bihar, India’s poorest state and long known for caste conflict, corruption and political violence, has seen a dramatic upsurge of lower caste politics since the early 1990s. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in sites ranging from the state assembly to villages, Dr. Witsoe examines the contradictions that emerged when lower-caste politicians took control of a state government that had long serve to reinforce upper-caste dominance.

Jeffrey Witsoe is an anthropologist whose work has focused on a rethinking of democracy and the postcolonial state through an examination of lower-caste politics in Bihar. He is the author of Democracy Against Development (University of Chicago Press) and articles and book chapters on lower-caste politics in India. His current research explores the political economy of rural development, with a focus on India’s massive rural employment guarantee scheme. Another project examines the ways in which neoliberal economic growth is reshaping regional politics, with a focus on criminal networks related to natural resource extraction. He holds a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, an M.A. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

Friday, February 7th, 2014
Joukowsky Forum | Watson Institute