Speaking Self , Writing Caste: Recovering the Life of Santram BA
Abstract

Through the life writing of Santram BA (1887–1998), a veteran Hindi writer and radical caste social reformer from Punjab, this essay illuminates a social history of caste in North India. Santram started writing in 1912 and published more than eighty books, including his memoir Mere Jeevan ke Anubhav. While Santram has remained on the margins of academic scholarship, the essay underlines that his life narrative produced multiple meanings of caste, where on the one hand, he became a staunch advocate of intercaste marriages, and on the other, he enacted a language of caste reform and respectability with ambiguous implications. This contradictory straddling makes his life narrative both a complex and politicized form of resistance and critique of caste, while simultaneously appearing as an account of accepted caste models and messages.


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