Journal article / Public-Privates and the Gendered Reconstitution of Caste in Rural Kerala

Thiranagama, Sharika. ‘Rural Civilities: Caste, Gender and Public Life in Kerala’. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. Published ahead of print, 25 April 2019.

Abstract (edited): This essay investigates how public life in Kerala is shaped by spatially distributed gendered caste practices. The essay first investigates rural publics, such as rural libraries, and suggests that forms of progressive civility in seemingly caste-free associational publics should be understood not as the elimination of caste practices but their reconstitution.

Second, while it is commonly accepted that caste is naturally practised in the ‘private’, I suggest that these ‘privates’ are in fact what I call a ‘private–public’ and are spatially and socially shaped by gender and caste. I argue that ideas of civility and democracy need to understand experiences of forms of civility and incivility as constituted in private–publics rather than only in the formal associational public.

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Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup

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