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Untouchable: Dalits in Modern India

S.M. Michael, editor
ISBN: 978-1-55587-697-5
1999/188 pages/LC: 99-11837

"A valuable, multifaceted book that matches theory with empirically grounded analysis.... This well-researched book will ensure an interdisciplinary and specialist readership."—Alexander Fischer, Contemporary South Asia

"An interesting and welcome sample of an alternative and distinctively Dalit approach to writing about religion, society, culture, and politics in India."—Andrew Wyatt, The Journal of Asian Studies


Exploring the enduring legacy of untouchability in India, this book challenges the ways in which the Indian experience has been represented in Western scholarship.

The authors introduce the long tradition of Dalit emancipatory struggle and present a sustained critique of academic discourse on the dynamics of caste in Indian society. Case studies complement these arguments, underscoring the perils and problems that Dalits face in a contemporary context of communalized politics and market reforms.


S.M. Michael is senior lecturer in sociology, University of Mumbai (India), and honorary director of the Institute of Indian Culture. He is author of Culture and Urbanisation.


  • Introduction—S.M. Michael.
  • Who Is a Dalit?—J.C.B. Webster.
  • Dalit Visions of Just Society—S.M. Michael.
  • Phule’s Critique of Brahmin Power—M. Gavaskar.
  • Ambedkar, Buddhism, and the Concept of Religion—T. Fitzgerald.
  • Representing Hinduism—S. Selvam.
  • Misrepresenting the Dalit Movement—G. Guru.
  • Becoming Hindu: Adivasis in South Gujarat—A. Patel.
  • State, Market, and the Dalits—B.L. Mungekar.
  • Dalits and Economic Policy: The Contributions of B.R. Ambedkar—G. Omvedt.
  • Dalits and Rural Development—S.P. Punalekar.
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