Upper Caste Racism: The Marked and Unmarked Across the Globe

Historian Gyanendra Pandey analyzes the dynamics of racism worldwide

In an essay written twenty years ago, Gyanendra Pandey spoke of “upper caste racism” as a central feature of the politics of the Hindu upper castes and classes.  In this presentation, Prof. Pandey will extend that proposition, and suggest that all racism is upper caste racism. Upper caste, because ruling and dominant groups and classes across the globe believe it is their inherited right to rule and to live in special comfort and prosperity.  Racism, because that is a way of keeping subordinated and marginalized groups – sometimes called minorities – “in their place;” and because the assumption of the right to rule, property and ‘culture’ leads to the segregation and subordination of those without privileged access to these, and to their denigration, castigation and even expulsion at times when they are seen as challenging the existing order of caste and race, Black and White.

Gyanendra PandeyGyanendra Pandey is Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Colonial and Postcolonial Studies Workshop at Emory University.  He is  a founding member and leading theorist of the Subaltern Studies project and has written extensively on marginality and citizenship, violence, and the history of history-writing.  His many publications include: Remembering Partition: Violence, Nationalism and History in India (2001), The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India (rev. ed. 2006); Routine Violence: Nations, Fragments, Histories (2006); and A History of Prejudice: Race, Caste and Difference in India and the USA (2013).  He is currently working on a study of the autobiographical writings of Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker and Viola Andrews. Three of his books were brought together in The Gyanendra Pandey Omnibus, published in 2008; and one of them, The Construction of Communalism in Colonial North India, has been reissued as an “Oxford India Perennial” to mark the centenary of Oxford University Press in 2012.


Presented by the Center for International Studies and cosponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and the Program on the Global Environment.

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