Books for changing the world
The Curious Trajectory of Caste in West Bengal Politics
Chronicling Continuity and Change

This important book critically engages with the dynamics of caste in the politics of West Bengal, which unlike other parts of India has remained relatively free from large scale caste-based political mobilisation. The insignificance of caste in West Bengal politics has remained an enigma. Despite a growing interest in the politics of caste in West Bengal in recent years, in part due to the end of the world’s longest serving democratically elected Communist government (1977-2011) – which put forward a class centric non-identitarian politics, the Caste question in West Bengal politics has remained under-researched. In this context, scholar Ayan Guha explores the reasons for the relative insignificance of caste in post-colonial West Bengal’s politics and also assesses the future possibilities of caste-based identity politics in the state.

  • "Through meticulous research and balanced analysis, this book critically examines Bengal's claim to caste exceptionalism. It is the most analytically sound and theoretically grounded book on the subject that I have read in recent years. Everyone interested in the sociology and politics of caste in Bengal must read it."
    —Sekhar Bandyopadhyay, Emeritus Professor of History, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

    "This book is an important contribution to the burgeoning literature on caste in contemporary West Bengal, a state long considered as 'exceptional' for being caste-blind and not having an overtly castebrutal society. The book will remain a valuable testimony of a time when dalit politics is torn between callings of radical autonomy and conquests of Hindutva hegemony."
    —Dwaipayan Bhattacharyya, Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

    "Ayan Guha has written an important and insightful book elucidating the complex trajectories of caste practice, politics and consciousness in West Bengal. Compelling reading for those interested in caste, representation and politics in India."
    —Hugo Gorringe, Senior Lecturer of Sociology and Co-director, Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom