Abstract

This paper is framed around a close reading and discussion of the juridical category of "caste atrocity," a form of postcolonial legislation instituted by the Indian state in 1955 (amended 1976, and 1989) to protect Dalits, or ex-untouchables, from the threat of upper-caste violence. The paper addresses the problematic permeability between humanity and violence assumed by such protective laws, and argues that rather than protecting Dalits from harm, laws to prevent violence have instead succeeded in making caste violence visible, and a new site of political activism: spectacular and everyday practices of (caste) violence confirm the partial or uncertain humanity of historically stigmatized subjects, but it is also the case that violence functions as a form of public communication that enables new formations of caste politics. The paper ends by suggesting that attention to the biopolitics of caste can help produce a global accounting of how the violated subject has come to be constituted as a "body of the state."

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-768X
Print ISSN
0037-783X
Pages
pp. 607-632
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-30
Open Access
N
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