March 2024

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM IST

Room 113, School of Arts and Sciences
Central Campus
Ahmedabad University


The Implied Rajput: Caste and Disguise in the U.P. Police

Seminar and Lecture Series
Joel Lee | Speaker at Ahmedabad University

Joel Lee

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Williams College

R.K. Chauhan (a pseudonym) ascended the ranks of the Uttar Pradesh police from one of its lowliest stations to one of its highest, retiring as a district superintendent.  Over the same period he underwent a transformation of caste; by his own account, he was born Dalit but became Rajput, taking on a title, manner and comportment associated with that dominant community—with unexpected consequences.  Anchored in interviews in Lucknow and part of a larger book project on caste concealment in urban north India, this talk follows the career of Chauhan and the critical reflections on chhaap—the indexical operation of marking and unmarking bodies with caste stigmata—that his experience as a doubly undercover observer leads him to elaborate. 


Joel Lee

Joel Lee is author of Deceptive Majority: Dalits, Hinduism and Underground Religion (Cambridge University Press, 2021), and co-editor, with K. Satyanarayana, of Concealing Caste: Passing and Personhood in Dalit Literature (Oxford University Press, 2023). He teaches anthropology at Williams College.