Caste: Sexuality, Race, and Globalization


Be it sati or enforced widowhood, arranged or love marriage, the rise of national leaders like Indira Gandhi and Kamala Harris, or the obsession with "fair" skin, caste shapes possibilities and perceptions for billions. In this class we combine a historical understanding of the social caste structure with the insights made by those who have worked to annihilate caste. We will re-visit history with the analytic tools provided by the concepts of compulsory endogamy, "surplus woman," and "brahmanical patriarchy," and we will build an understanding of the enduring yet invisible "sexual-caste" complex. As we will see, caste has always relied on sexual difference, its ever-mutating power enabled by the intersectionalities of race, gender and class. We'll learn how caste adapts to every twist in world history, increasingly taking root outside India and South Asia. We will delve into film and memoir, sources that document the incessant injustices of caste and how they have compounded under globalization. The class will research the exchange of concepts between anti-race and anti-caste activists: how caste has shaped the work of prominent anti-racist intellectuals and activists in the United States such as W.E.B. DuBois and Isabel Wilkerson and in turn, the agenda and creativity of groups such as the Dalit Panthers. Finally, the course will build a practical guide to engaging with and interrupting caste in the context of the contemporary global world today. Waitlists controlled by Department; priority given to WGSS majors. Enrollment cap 15.
Course Attributes: BU BA; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM; AS SC; EN H

Section 01

Caste: Sexuality, Race, and Globalization
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