Tamil Brahmans by C. J. Fuller
The Making of a Middle-Class Caste

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A cruise along the streets of Chennai—or Silicon Valley—filled with professional young Indian men and women, reveals the new face of India. In the twenty-first century, Indians have acquired a new kind of global visibility, one of rapid economic advancement and, in the information technology industry, spectacular prowess. In this book, C. J. Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan examine one particularly striking group who have taken part in this development: Tamil Brahmans—a formerly traditional, rural, high-caste elite who have transformed themselves into a new middle-class caste in India, the United States, and elsewhere.

Fuller and Narasimhan offer one of the most comprehensive looks at Tamil Brahmans around the world to date. They examine Brahman migration from rural to urban areas, more recent transnational migration, and how the Brahman way of life has translated to both Indian cities and American suburbs. They look at modern education and the new employment opportunities afforded by engineering and IT. They examine how Sanskritic Hinduism and traditional music and dance have shaped Tamil Brahmans’ particular middle-class sensibilities and how middle-class status is related to the changing position of women. Above all, they explore the complex relationship between class and caste systems and the ways in which hierarchy has persisted in modernized India. 

About C. J. Fuller

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C. J. Fuller is emeritus professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics. He is the author of several books, including The Camphor Flame and The Renewal of the Priesthood. Haripriya Narasimhan is assistant professor of social anthropology and sociology at the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad.
Published November 11, 2014 by University of Chicago Press. 289 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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London School of Economics

For example, while the professions of medicine and engineering were originally considered to be unsuitable for Brahmans because of their respective associations with bodily impurity and artisanal labor, Tamil Brahmans overcame those caste scruples and eventually became highly represented in these...

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