Proliferation of Caste: A Historical Explanation

The lecture focused on one of the fundamental concerns of history, of the historical process of the formation and proliferation of castes in Kerala region, as part of the formation of the temple-centred agrarian society. It started with the earliest identifiable social formation in the region, which was a combination of several simple unevenly evolved economies largely incapable of generating division and specialization of labour leading to the divergence of kinship and the formation of castes. The system of service-tenure under the king and the local rulers also gave rise to hereditary offices, generating castes and sub-castes with economy and royalty as determinants of status hierarchy. Its extension into non-brahmana villages, and even to market towns, attested by records, suggests caste appeared as an institutional manifestation in the hierarchically structured agrarian society in which services were paid for in the form of land rights.

This lecture was part of the conference on ‘The Caste Question and the Historian’s Craft’. 

Rajan Gurrukal is one of the eminent historians whose exceptional range of work is greatly acclaimed. He is currently Soundararajan Chair Visiting Professor, Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Malleswaram, Bangalore. His areas of specialisation range from the socio-economics of the Kerala temple and advanced through the study of the land system and socio-political organisation in the Tamil South to ‘forms of production and forces of change in ancient Tamil society, the Tamil heroic discourse, and the writing and its uses in early historic society.

He has authored several books both in Malayalam and English on Socio-economic and Cultural History,  Structural Anthropology,  Historical Sociology,  Social formations of South India, myth, history and society,  Human Ecology of the Southern Western Ghats and political sociology.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014, 5 pm
CSDS Seminar Hall