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Spatial and Temporal Change in the Caste System: The Punjab to Bradford

Medway, Dominic Jon (1998) Spatial and Temporal Change in the Caste System: The Punjab to Bradford. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

The principal focus of this study is the caste system. The study begins by producing a 'skeletal' definition of the term 'caste', which breaks out of the 'theoretical stagnation' imposed on Indology by the work of Louis Dumont (1970). Using this definition, a simple framework for conceptualising Indian society is constructed which illustrates the nature of the caste system. The fortunes of the caste system are then explored in India's historical past and in Indian Hindu Diaspora, and from this exploration a commonsense view of the caste system as being immutable is confounded. Instead, it is established that the institution is adaptable and flexible, because it is constantly changing in response to forces affecting it over time and space. However, whilst some aspects of the caste system are open to change, it is argued that other aspects remain resolutely unchanging. Accordingly, it is suggested that the institution contains elements of both modernity and tradition, and that this may be the key to its survival through time and space. The caste system is then examined with reference to Punjabi Hindus in Bradford. Through a detailed analysis of qualitative and quantitative data collected amongst this community during 1994 and 1995, a fascinating picture unfolds concerning the presence and operation of the caste system desh pardesh (at home abroad) for Bradford's Punjabi Hindus. Spatial and temporal changes in the caste system are also identified as having occurred through the migration and settlement of Bradford's Punjabi Hindu community. The conclusions relate this back to the wider issue of spatial and temporal changes in the caste system occurring in other parts of Indian Hindu Diaspora, and consider implications for the future of the institution amongst Punjabi Hindus in Bradford.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.628564
Depositing User: Digitisation Studio Leeds
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2014 13:54
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7189

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