Upcoming Events

Chicago Tamil Forum Keynote Lecture: Urban Hindu Nadars, Disjunctive Identities, and the Class-Caste Nexus

Thursday, May 23, 2024 – 5pm, Foster 103

The 2024 Chicago Tamil Forum welcomes keynote speaker, Sara Dickey!

Join us as Dr. Sara Dickey (Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, Bowdoin College) gives her keynote lecture, “Urban Hindu Nadars, Disjunctive Identities, and the Class-Caste Nexus.”

Hindu Nadars in urban south India occupy highly disjunctive statuses bearing distinctly different levels of honor and stigma. Historically viewed as one of the lowest-ranked castes, Nadars have also become one of the wealthiest communities in the region. While they are accorded respect for their business and professional acumen, education, and wealth, higher castes often criticize them for “uncivilized” or “low” behavior (including certain worship practices). Drawing on narrated histories, this talk explores Nadars’ every day and long-term strategies to counter prejudice and to settle the perceived disjuncture in their assigned statuses. Nadars’ accounts provide an opportunity to view both caste and class identities from a singular perspective, raising new questions about, for example, concepts of “merit” and even the impacts of officially codified caste categorizations. Such topics prompt a further review of the multiple intersections and mutual influences of class and caste, while demonstrating that caste as well as class identities depend on negotiations with others, and must be ratified by both public and more intimate audiences.