About the Seminar:
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 seminar 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.
About the Speaker:
Joel Lee is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Williams College. He is the 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).