From militant rejection to pragmatic consensus: Caste among Madigas in Andhra Pradesh

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This article examines gender and age differences in Dalit attitudes towards caste inequality, using interviews and ethnographic fi eldwork conducted among Madigas in Andhra Pradesh (AP). Madigas express a range of views about their position in society. Some oppose ideas of untouchability and espouse ideologies of equality. They deny the existence of caste and have no respect for what they see as the dying remnants of the old order. Others (especially elderly women) accept patronage and subordination in return for cash and security and exploit the old forms of subservience and deference. The paper argues that Madigas reject ‘caste-as-hierarchy’ and make use of ‘caste-as-identity’ and attempt to use their caste status as a resource which can be invoked when it is benefi cial, and downplayed when it is not.

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