Seminar:"Modernity without Alterity: Caste Associations and Hindu Cosmopolitanism in Mumbai" by Prof. Suryakant Waghmore.
This paper explores the nature of urbanism that caste associations seek to construct in the metropolis of Mumbai. To this end it asks: What role do caste associations play in the cosmopolitanism(s) of Mumbai? How do they help individuals negotiate cosmopolitan urbanism? What is the nature of civility and publicness they aspire for and work towards? What are the challenges they face?I suggest that caste associations of ‘pure’ and ‘privileged’ work towards achieving an ideal of Hindu cosmopolitanism. Such associations may seem to be bad cases of (liberal) cosmopolitanism as they achieve a certain kind of limited openness and tolerance while continuing caste-closure. Caste associations however attempt to provide roots to decentered individuals in the urban environment as they simultaneously enjoy consumerist cosmopolitanism. The challenges facing caste associations point both to the limits of Hindu cosmopolitanism as an ideal and social practice, and the lack of alterity as a necessary moral value for Hindu cosmopolitanism.
Suryakant Waghmore is Associate Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay.