The Newsletter 66 Winter 2013

It's not all about caste

Manuela Ciotti

It might sound like a paradox to shift the focus away from caste in order to speak of Dalit (former untouchable) and low-caste women political activists in Lucknow, the capital of the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). For decades now, this state has been the epicentre of low-caste politics. The paradox gains strength when adding that the above women are activists within the Bahujan Samaj Party (the majority of the people’s party, or BSP), for which Dalit caste-based identity has played a pivotal role. However, as I entered the world of politics through women in the BSP, when my fi eldwork began in the mid 2000s, other sociological features such as gender, class, and politics – and their interplay with caste – signalled their importance in capturing women’s identities and activities.


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