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Christian Lee Novetzke
University of Washington (Seattle, WA 98105-6613)
The Brahmin Double: Religion, Caste, Language, and Performance in Maharashtra, India, 1200-2000 CE

This project examines religious and other performance materials from the thirteenth century to the present in Marathi and the modern Indian state of Maharashtra. I explore how Brahmin performers and composers appear to be agents in the creation of anti-caste and in particular anti-Brahmin sentiment in public contexts. I situate this Brahminical anti-caste and anti-Brahmin discourse within a largely performative public sphere where Brahmins balanced their role as knowledge specialists in heterogeneous social, religious, and cultural contexts where they were a significant minority. Here, Brahmin advocates of anti-Brahmin and anti-caste sentiment offered a ‘double’, a discursively constructed ‘Brahmin’, thus deflecting or diffusing criticism and enabling the Brahmin performer or composer to maintain a position of importance in the world of public performance and, later, public politics.

Project fields:
Nonwestern Religion

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2013 – 7/31/2014