Life Options Through Education: A Karnataka Village Study

  • Helen E. Ullrich
Part of the Anthropological Studies of Education book series (ASE)


In the 1960s, Havik Brahmins of the Karnataka village, Totagadde, regarded themselves as educationally backward. Narratives illustrating their progression from illiteracy to professional competence reveal the power of education as an agent of social change. The path toward professional achievement available initially to the few educated Brahmin men grew to include men and women of all castes. This encouragement of education for all allowed continued Brahmin dominance through respect. Educational opportunities enhanced community recognition of achievements. This intercaste fluidity and socialization made possible the retention of caste hierarchy and a transition from a caste to a class structure. The impact of education over a 53-year period has changed intercaste interactions, altered ritual practices, and moved societal identification from caste to merit based values.


Gender Caste Class 



I express my gratitude to Suzanne Hanchett and the anonymous reviewers for their comments on my introduction and chapters, to Geoffrey L. Burkhart for his comments on my chapter, and to the people of Totagadde. The National Humanities Center provided an ideal place to analyze and write my research in the spring of 1988. The following granting institutions made possible my India research trips: American Philosophical Society: 1985, American Institute of Indian Studies Junior and Senior Fellowships: 1964–1966; 1975–1976; 1986–1987; 1994–1995.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen E. Ullrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Tulane University Medical SchoolNew OrleansUSA

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