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The Legitimacy of South Indian Caste Councils

  • Esther Fihl
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Abstract

During a conversation with Pushpavalli, a Tamil fish vendor in her forties whom I have known for several years, she revealed the following story about an earlier, delicate situation in her family, when she had not been able to pay a debt imposed on her by some fellow fishermen:

The fishers’ caste council expelled me and my family from the village and they ordered that people should not share fire or water with me. We were hidden from the village… If they write this in the village resolution book, it means that we have to pay the money legally until our death. So we cannot cheat them, because the words would prove my promise… Due to my promise to the fishers’ council, my husband started to torture me. Every day, my husband beat and scolded me a lot and cut my hand [showing me the scars]… and we left this village in the middle of the night, because we were afraid that if they came to know anything about our leaving this village for other places for life, they would do some wrong things to us… For fifteen years, the fishers’ council expelled me from this village and just three years ago it again admitted me and my family within the village… If I had not settled the debt, the village would not have allowed me or my family to enter this village and would not have allowed me or my family members to take part in any of the celebration or death [ceremonies] within this village… That is the reason why I have paid the debts.

Keywords

Council Member Fishing Village Alternative Space Autonomous Domain Village Member 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Jens Dahl and Esther Fihl 2013

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  • Esther Fihl

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