Rochelle Pinto… on pamphlets, caste and class


Often, debates over caste and class degenerate into a public airing of our biases and arrogance. The issue of caste has been hotly debated, not once but twice (and there’s probably lot more to come) in cyberspace. Take a look at the February 2005 archives of Goanet for instance.
Incidentally, in an article titled A Time To Publish published in the Economic and Political Weekly (Mumbai) issue of February 26, 2005, Rochelle Pinto makes some interesting points indeed.
EPW says the “article discusses two sets of pamphlets that appeared towards the end of the 19th century in colonial Goa, in an attempt to show how precedents and norms established by European print were not exactly reproduced in the colony. The function of print and the genre of pamphlets, in particular, were altered by class difference, caste hierarchies and the context in which rural and urban politics functioned in Goa.”
Quote: “Increasingly, in the early decades of the 20th century, the monopolies and usurpation of land rights by nadkarnis, kulkarnis, and other dominant castes began to be challenged across villages in Goa. In the Old Conquests of Goa, the territories conquered from 1510 on, the institution of the ‘communidade’, which administered village land through councils whose membership was hereditary, male, and usually upper caste, was particularly strong. Rising literacy levels among sudras had, however, resulted in their growing visibility among groups of litigants in Goa. Salaried employment outside Goa had enabled sudras to use print to supplement litigation for land-rights. Within Goa, the form of the pamphlet was considerably altered when they adopted it to challenge the monopolies of kulkarnis, nadkarnis, and their own village communidades.”
Surely, a very interesting and insightful read!

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