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255 introduction The chapter’s first epigraph is from Viswanath (2014b, xi). 1. The existence of a singular structural division between Dalits and non-Dalits does not preclude the possibility of there being individual castes whose position within this binary is uncertain. While all castes could be unambiguously assigned to one or the other category in the deltaic heartlands of India’s rice-growing civilization , where the caste system existed in its most pure form, in marginal and dry areas there were castes that could be classified as either touchable or untouchable depending on what criteria are applied (Fuller 2015, 19). 2. In India an ordinance is a law enacted by executive authority when the legislative body is not in session. When the legislative body returns to session it must approve the ordinance, at which point its official designation is changed from ordinance to law; if not, the ordinance lapses (Philip 2014). 1. outsiders 1. A Pentecostal woman I knew well told me she had once been friends with an African man, a Muslim student from Sudan. His name was Jamal. She confided that they had been lovers, though no one else in Anbu Nagar knew. She would never forget him, she told me, and he would never forget her. She loved him still. Before leaving, Jamal had gotten her name tattooed on his arm, in Tamil lettering, and she had had his name tattooed on her arm in Arabic. This was so no one in their respective worlds would learn of their affair. When people asked what her tattoo said, she told me, she always just told them it read “Peace.” What was he like? I asked. “He was exactly like you,” she said, “kind and gentle.” 2. Guests are shown mariyātai, for example. Outside of the guest–host context the guest might be the host’s social equal, but within it the guest is treated formally as if he or she were a superior. notes 256 • Notes 3. Employment discrimination against Dalits is pervasive in India, and well documented (Thorat and Newman 2010; A. Deshpande 2011; HarrissWhite 2014). 4. The transvestites in Anbu Nagar referred to themselves as alis rather than the Hinduized neologism aravān —i that some authors and activists regard as more politically correct. I use ali because this was their own preferred self-designation and because the term aravān —i references a Hindu origin myth that marginalizes nonHindu alis. Unlike their North Indian counterparts, hijras, alis do not surgically alter their genitals; at any rate, the penises and testicles of ones I knew were fully intact. 5. Tit .t .u differs from these English terms, however, in that it can also refer to criticism of a person expressed to a third party when the criticized person is not physically present. But tit .t .u is never simply “talking behind someone’s back,” which implies a desire to keep the target in the dark about what one is saying about him or her. Tit .t .u is always aimed at producing an effect, getting targets to recognize that what they did was wrong. Thus even when someone tit .t .u-fies someone else to a third party, it is always in some sense “public” and spoken with the intent that what is said will eventually reach the ears of its target. 6. In Tamil Nadu and elsewhere in India, women’s NGO workers and activists portray poor women as strongly and uniformly opposed to alcohol consumption and seek successfully to mobilize them on this basis. Along with gender norms that tend to see women’s sexuality though the lens of victimhood—about which more below—this is a common thread in middle-class activism on poor women’s behalf. Targeted by paternalistic “upliftment” programs, slum women respond by publicly expressing absolute opposition to alcohol and in so doing lay claim to a moral purity that the dominant discourse on caste denies them. A side effect is that this emphasizes their victim status with respect to men. While not denying that poor women are often victimized by poor men, there is no basis for the common assumption that slum men are any more abusive than men of other communities . And while systematic conflict between women and their husbands is a reality, it is rather more complex than dominant narratives allow. This is a major focus of chapter 3. My point here is simply that the politics of poor women’s movements are not straightforward...


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