Caste, Materiality and Embodiement Questioning the Idealism/Materialism Debate

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Subro Saha


Exploring the contingencies and paradoxes shaping the idealism/materialism separation in absolutist terms, the paper attempts to analyze the problems of such separatist tendencies in terms of dealing the question of caste. Engaging with the problems of separating ‘idea’ and ‘matter’ in relation to three dominant aspects that shape the conceptualization of caste— origin(s), body, and society— the paper presents caste as an enmeshed idea-matter embrace that gains its circulation in practice through embodiment. Aiming to counter caste with its own logic and internal contradictions, the paper further proceeds to show that these three aspects, that had otherwise been seen for a long time as shaping caste, also contradicts their own efficacy and logic. With such an approach the paper presents caste as a ghost that feed on our embodied ideas and thus, bringing in the trope of (mis)reading, the paper tries to examine the intricacies haunting any attempt to deal with the ghost. The paper therefore can be seen as a humble effort at reminding the futility of any reading that fails to read the specters of caste as continuous figurations of embodied ideas and instead tries to keep aside idea and matter in absolutely detachable terms.

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Saha, S. (2020). Caste, Materiality and Embodiement. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 1(1), 200-216.
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