What is the history of caste in a city? Indian modernizers assumed that the various processes of modernity, including industrial capitalism, would attenuate caste and create the possibility of new social relationships, including class solidarity. Instead, capitalism relied on caste to recruit and discipline labor, and the colonial and postcolonial governments deployed it for housing, city planning, and provisions for social welfare. On its part, caste adapted to housing, urban planning, and even land tenures. Even the purported antitheses of capitalism—Marxism and Communism—could not annihilate caste. As a result, caste became robust even as it was shrouded beneath the veneer of modern urban life.
Outcaste Bombay examines the interplay of caste and class in twentieth-century Bombay. It studies processes that are transnational—capitalism, Marxism, urban planning, literature—and the ways in which they became relevant to life in the city. It focuses on urban outcastes—Dalits primarily, and also the urban poor—to trace their interaction with city-making and urban politics, their sense of self and community, and the cultural life they fashioned in Bombay.
This interdisciplinary book draws on rare English and Marathi-language sources—including novels, poems, and manifestoes—and contributes to debates in the fields of South Asian history, global Marxism, social anthropology, urban studies, labor studies, Dalit studies, and literature.
The Housing Question and Caste, 1896–1950
Marxism, Language, and Social Hierarchy, 1920–1950
Urban Planning and Cultural Politics, 1945–1971
Revolutionary Lineages of Dalit Literature, 1950–1972
Slums, Sex, and the Field of Power, 1960–1984
About the Author: JUNED SHAIKH is associate professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.