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Nayar, Rina (1976) Caste, rituals and strategies. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis focusses attention on two institutions in a caste oriented society at variance with the established pattern of behaviour between members of different castes. These are Ritual Kinship and Spirit Possession among ritual specialists. The study was carried out in Dharnu, a village in Himachal Pradesh, India. The first chapter outlines the accepted pattern of inter-caste behaviour and draws attention to the flexibility with which it operates in practice. Their appear to exist in all cases, regularized mechanisms for circumventing caste rules, which axe ritually legitimised. The second chapter provides a general background into the study and describes the peoples in that area and their customs. The third chapter analyses the caste hierarchy in the village with special emphasis on commensal behaviour as the clearest index of ranking. The fourth chapter begins with a discussion of the nature of ritual kinship and presents data on this institution in Dharnu. The data are analysed in terms of the strategic value for individuals and their integrative value for the community. The fifth chapter deals with spirit possession among ritual specialists and examines the institution as a means of different kinds of status achievement by both high and low castes. The concluding chapter contains a summary of the different ways in which individuals manipulate these two institutions and attempts to relate them to the social structure in which they obtain. Probably all societies contain institutions at variance with their basic values. In this thesis I have examined two such institutions in a hierarchical society in order to show that other principles of organization exist in addition to the dominant stress on hierarchy and to analyse the ways in which they are accommodated within the structured relationships which form the basis of the society.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:11

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