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Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India. Usually, but not always, members of the same caste are of the same social rank, have similar group of occupations and typically have mores which distinguish it from other groups.[1] The word caste can also just generally refer to any rigid system of cultural or social distinctions[2]

Although Indian society is often now associated with the word "caste", it was first used by the Portuguese to describe inherited class status in their own European society. English caste is from Latin castus[3] "pure, cut off, segregated", and is etymologically related to carere "to cut off".[4] Application to Indian social groups originates in the 17th century, via Portuguese casta "breed, race, caste". This terminology has informed and greatly influenced the negative European view of caste.

Identification and sometimes Discrimination based on caste, or casteism, as perceived by UNICEF, is prevalent mainly in parts of Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Japan) and Africa. UNICEF estimates that such perceived discrimination based on caste affects 250 million people worldwide.[5]



[edit] South Asia

[edit] India

Indian society has consisted since ancient times of several thousand tribal and occupational groups or communities called Jāti. The phrase "Caste System" conflates the reality and theory - the reality of the Jāti system prevalent throughout the Indian society since ancient times and the varna (class/group),[6] theoretical scheme based on idealised[citation needed] self-identification in Brahminical traditions.

Faced with a confounding array of thousands of autonomous and hierarchically fluid communities (Jatis), the late 19th century British colonial administration decided to categorise and rank the entire Hindu population of India by placing each of the Jatis within the theoretical varna scheme of the so-called "Aryan Castes" for the purposes of the decennial Census, ostensibly to test a theory of racial basis of Indian society. The 1901 Census was led by Herbert Hope Risley, an ICS officer with racial beliefs about the Indian population, including the superiority of the "Aryan Castes" that constituted less than ten percent of India's population and whom he saw as descendants of the ancient Aryan invaders, in the light of then prevalent but flawed historical views. Simultaneous with this first ever codification into secular law of varna-based caste identities, communities (Jatis) sought to place themselves on higher levels of varna categories. On the other hand, most of the Jatis were grouped into the lower caste categories and rejected the varna categories outright, as they found this arbitrary classification unreasonable, unfair and unacceptable. This newly frozen materialisation of caste created a growing resentment firstly against the system itself and secondly against the "Aryan" or "Upper" castes, especially the Brahmins, who were seen as the beneficiaries of an arrangement which now officially anointed their place at the top of the social hierarchy. The revolt of the Justice Party and Periyar in the south, by the Maharaja of Kolhapur and Dr Ambedkar in western India against this, in the early decades of the 20th century, has had a profound, long-lasting impact on the Indian society and politics, which continues to this day.[citation needed]

Nair soldiers attending the King of Cochin: A 16th Century European portrait.

The forced melding by the British colonial power in 1901 of the ubiquitous Jati with the theoretical varna categories of the Brahmins, has promoted a general and erroneous belief that the entire Indian society was grouped into the four ideal "static and unchanging" Varna categories since time immemorial. Indian society has viewed this artificial rigidity with dismay and has been struggling with this flawed imposition ever since the beginning of the 20th century. To explain the continuance of the British imposition even after India's independence, it has been postulated that Indians do not seem concern themselves much with the facts of history and have accepted the fabricated reality of modern caste as given. In any event, for the Indian politicians, as it was for the British colonial masters, this has proved to be a useful myth to promote, as it provides them with ready constituencies for which to claim a perpetual victim status and benefit from the divisions and votes this garners. According to an Indian sociologist "This happens partly because the idea of caste has become embedded in the idea of India as a nation: caste is taken as proof of India's cultural continuity and a stable past"(Surinder Singh Jodhka - Sikhism and the caste question: Dalits and their politics in contemporary Punjab).[citation needed]

The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 lists 1,108 castes across 25 states in its First Schedule.[7] The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950 lists 744 tribes across 22 states in its First Schedule.[8]

Some activists, most prominently at the UN conference at Durban, have asserted that the caste is a form of racial discrimination.[9][10] Genetic studies have corroborated this view, esp. with regard to the caste matrix in Southern Indian regions.[11] UNICEF estimates that some form of discrimination based on caste affects 250 million people in South Asia.[12]

According to the eminent sociologist Andre Béteille, treating caste as a form of racism is "politically pernicious" and worse, "scientifically anomalous" since there is no discernible difference in the racial characteristics between Brahmins and Scheduled Castes. He writes that "'Every social group cannot be regarded as a race simply because we want to protect it against prejudice and discrimination.'"[25]

The Rajputs were the highest secular Hindu caste. The Chohans, descendents of warrior princes, claimed the highest position among the Rajput clans. 1862-1868

The Indian government, too, has denied the claims of equivalence between caste and racial discrimination, pointing out that the issues of social status is essentially intra-racial and intra-cultural. The view of the caste system as "static and unchanging" is disappearing. The Indian government has been working towards creating equality between castes with affirmative action, such as guaranteed seats in educational institutions, government jobs (and promotions) and even in the parliament for those of the Scheduled Untouchable castes and tribes. Scholarships have also been available to all of these groups, so that they can go on to further education more easily and this has raised their social status. Sociologists describe how the perception of the caste system as a static and textual stratification has given way to the perception of the caste system as a more processional, empirical and contextual stratification. Others have applied theoretical models to explain mobility and flexibility in the caste system in India.[26] According to these scholars, groups of lower-caste individuals could seek to elevate the status of their caste by attempting to emulate the practices of higher castes. The eminent Socio-anthropologist M. N. Srinivas has also questioned the rigidity of caste and introduced the concept of Sanskritisation.[27][28].

A number of social commentators, well-known journalists and academics and social activists fighting for Dalit rights have opined that the opposition to Caste being discussed under the rubric of Racism at the Durban Conference is an attempt by Indian government to escape international accountability for the empowerment and welfare of subalterns. At the same conference, the Indian government also opposed giving the Tribals (Adivasis) of India the status of "Indigenous peoples" as that too would've made India a part of the international accountability regimes under the Convention against Racism.[13][14][15]

[edit] Varna

Early Indian texts like the Manusmriti and the Puranas speak of 'Varna,' which means order, nature, type or colour. It groups the society into four idealised main types as follows.

  • Brahmins (scholars, teachers, fire priests)
  • Kshatriyas (warriors, kings, administrators)
  • Vaishyas (merchants, agriculturists)
  • Shudras (artisans, service providers)

All others who did not belong to this Hindu society, including foreigners, tribals and nomads were called Mlechhas and even those who had been excommunicated to being "Anaryas" (non-Aryans), were to be treated as contagious and untouchable barbarians. Its members feared banishment from society as a powerful disincentive against violating social norms. A late section of the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata suggests an origin of this practice: "He who becomes harsh in speech, or violent in temper, he who seduces or abducts other people's women or robs the wealth that belongs to others, should be cast off by us".

Hindu children of high caste, Bombay, India, c. 1922.

The hypothetical system provided each group with its own niche, and few individuals were left without a distinct role. According to the Varna system, Brahmins are enjoined to live in poverty and their primary vocation was to learn the Vedas, sacred texts and secular subjects, teach others and pray for the well-being of all. The Kshatriya's chief occupation was martial skills, protection of civil society and governance. The Vaishyas were those occupied with trade, banking and agrarian activities including cattle raising, while the Sudras were other workers, craftsmen and service providers of all types. The reality of thousands of Jatis in the Indian society, which freely did what they pleased, had a variety of mixed roles and did not know or care about what the Brahmins had to say about them, was explained away by the texts as having been the outcome of a pre-historical mixing of Varnas, or 'Varna Samkara'. All the Varnas were urged, without exception, to inculcate non-possessiveness, non-stealing, truthfulness, non-violence and benevolence. These too were the very attributes propounded by the later Jain and Buddhist doctrines. It was believed by some that after death, people are reborn into a higher caste if they had led a moral life, or a lower caste if they led an immoral life. Thus, it was thought that those who served undesirable functions, like the untouchables, deserved their lot, because of their past Karma.

As the historian Romila Thapar has pointed out in her 'The Past and Prejudice': "The dynamic of Indian society was the juxtaposition of precept to practice, of the organisation of life as it should be, to the organisation of life as it is. For every aspect of life, from the most mundane to the most exhilarating, there was a theory of functioning which did not necessarily reflect the reality. The theory was the ideal image.....The resulting dichotomies were not forced into confrontation but were adjusted...Such adjustments seem easier in pre-industrial societies whose cultures invariably appear to be more gentle, meditative and less competitive,..."

Although Brahmins have usually been described as the priestly class, this is not entirely accurate, as a temple priest need not have been a Brahmin, in fact very few could have been, given the vast number of temples and the sparse population of Brahmins; however, the performers of a Vedic Yajna for others or a public Yajna fire sacrifice usually were Brahmins. All the Dvija (Twice Born) i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas could and did perform the Homa fire sacrifice for themselves. Even this has not always been followed by all sects within Hinduism - for example, in the Arya Samaj, all castes including Shudras can perform the fire sacrifice. There were several categories among the Brahmins and temple priests, if any at all, were usually at the lowest end of the Brahmin social scale. The ancient Greeks, e.g., Megasthenes in his Indika and the Muslims, e.g. Alberuni (1030 CE) described Brahmins as philosophers. Megasthenes calls them Brachmanes and characterises them thus:

"The philosophers are first in rank, but form the smallest class in point of number. Their services are employed privately by persons who wish to offer sacrifices or perform other sacred rites, and also publicly by the kings at what is called the Great Synod, wherein at the beginning of the new year all the philosophers are gathered together before the king at the gates, when any philosopher who may have committed any useful suggestion to writing, or observed any means for improving the crops and the cattle, or for promoting the public interests, declares it publicly."

[edit] Jatis

Professor Madhav Gadgil (1983) has described the reality of self-governing, closed communities, which are called Jatis, in India, based on his research in rural Maharashtra: "The Indian society is even today an agglomeration of numerous castes, tribes and religious communities. The tribal and caste groups are endogamous, reproductively isolated populations traditionally distributed over a restricted geographical range. The different caste populations, unlike tribes, have extensive geographical overlap and members of several castes generally constitute the complex village society. In such a village society, each caste, traditionally self regulated by a caste council, used to lead a relatively autonomous existence. Each caste used to pursue a hereditarily prescribed occupation; this was particularly true of the artisan and service castes and the pastoral and nomadic castes. The several castes were linked to each other through a traditionally determined barter of services and produce (Ghurye 1961, Karve 1961). These caste groups retained their identity even after conversion to Islam or Christianity. Each of the caste groups was thus the unit within which cultural and perhaps genetic evolution occurred, at least for the last 1500 years when the system was fully crystallized and probably much longer. Over this period the various castes had come to exhibit striking differences in cultural traits like skills possessed, food habits, dress, language, religious observances as well as in a number of genetic traits." [1]

A page from the manuscript Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India, which consists of 72 full-color hand-painted images of men and women of the various castes and religious and ethnic groups found in Madura, India in 1837.[16]

In A New History of India, Stanley Wolpert states", a process of expansion, settled agricultural production and pluralistic integration of new people led to the development of India's uniquely complex system of social organisation by occupation...."

Under the Jati system, a person is born into a Jati with ascribed social roles and endogamy, i.e. marriages take place only within that Jati. The Jati provided identity, security and status and has historically been open to change based on economic, social and political influences (see Sanskritization). In the course of early Indian history, various tribal, economic, political and social factors led to a continuous closing, consolidation and variation in the prevailing social ranks which tended to become traditional, hereditary system of social structuring. This system of thousands of exclusive, endogamous groups, is called Jāti. Though there were several kinds of variations across the breadth of India, the Jati was the effective community within which one married and spent most of one's personal life. Often it was the community (Jati) which provided support in difficult times, in old age and even in the resolution of disputes. It was thus the community which one also sought to promote.

The Untouchables - Pariahs or Antyajas, were at the bottom of the social scale and even now perform the jobs nobody else wants such as disposal of corpses, night soil handling or execution of criminals; They lived in their own ghettos at the peripheries of the towns and villages and were not allowed to even hear the vedas. It is, however, rather interesting and not so well known is that people of all Jatis across the spectrum, from the so-called upper castes to the lowest of castes, including the Untouchables, tended to avoid intermarriage, sharing of food and drinks, or even close social interaction with a Jati other than their own. Indeed, for some of them, for example, the Tharu Boxas, even Brahmins were untouchable. Most of the Jati castes did not see themselves as socially inferior to the others in any way[citation needed]. If at all, it was the other way round[citation needed] and many of them had folk narratives, traditions, myths and legends to bolster their sense of identity and cultural uniqueness. For instance, the Yadavs, a prominent backward class believe that "Even in the Vedic age the Yadavs were upholders of the Republican ideals of government.... The Mahabharata furnishes interesting details regarding the functioning of the republic form of government among the Yadavs.... It is now an agreed fact that Sri Krishna, the central figure of the epic narratives tried to defend the republican ideas against the imperialistic movement led by Jarasandha of Magadaha and Kamsa of Mathura" (R.V.K. Yadav quoted by Lucia Michelutti in "Caste and modern politics in a north Indian town"). Dalits also have "the stories that assert the glory of the caste, identify legendary figures who, the narrators imagine, have played pivotal roles in building their caste identity. The facts of the past are interspersed with myth and fantasy to create a new perception of a past that is glorious, pure and exclusive. This in turn is accorded historical status and imagined to have existed from time immemorial (Seneviratne1997: 5). This kind of history, which seeks authenticity from written sources and from the self-interpretation of so-called archaeological re-mains, is sustained by commemorations such as feasts, fasts, celebrations and the creation of new symbols like flags and emblems based on these..." (Dalit mobilisation and nationalist past" by Badri Narayan).

Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India, 1837.

An interesting perspective on ancient North Indian society is provided by the Greek Megasthenes, who, in his Indika, described the society as being made up of "seven castes":

"The whole population of India is divided into seven castes, of which the first is formed by the collective body of the Philosophers, which in point of number is inferior to the other castes, but in point of dignity preeminent over all. For the philosophers, being exempted from all public duties, are neither the masters nor the servants of others. They are, however, engaged by private persons to offer the sacrifices due in lifetime, and to celebrate the obsequies of the dead: for they are believed to be most dear to the gods, and to be the most conversant with matters pertaining to Hades. In requital of such services they receive valuable gifts and privileges. To the people of India at large they also render great benefits, when, gathered together at the beginning of the year, they forewarn the assembled multitudes about droughts and wet weather, and also about propitious winds, and diseases, and other topics capable of profiting-the hearers. Thus the people and the sovereign, learning beforehand what is to happen, always make adequate provision against a coming deficiency, and never fail to prepare beforehand what will help in a time of need. The philosopher who errs in his predictions incurs no other penalty than obloquy, and he then observes silence for the rest of his life."[17]

The other classes are also described by Arrian, in The Anabasis Alexandrae, Book VIII: Indica (2nd c. CE) relying on the account of Megasthenes:

"Then next to these come the farmers, these being the most numerous class of Indians; they have no use for warlike arms or warlike deeds, but they till the land; and they pay the taxes to the kings and to the cities, such as are self-governing; and if there is internal war among the Indians, they may not touch these workers, and not even devastate the land itself; but some are making war and slaying all comers, and others close by are peacefully ploughing or gathering the fruits or shaking down apples or harvesting.

The third class of Indians are the herdsmen, sheep and cattle pastoralists, and these dwell neither by cities nor in the villages. They are nomads and get their living on the hillsides, and they pay taxes from their animals; they hunt also birds and wild game in the country.

Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India, 1837.

The fourth class is of artisans and shopkeepers; these are workers, and pay tribute from their works, save such as make weapons of war; these are paid by the community. In this class are the shipwrights and sailors, who navigate the rivers.

The fifth class of Indians is the soldiers' class, next after the farmers in number; these have the greatest freedom and the most spirit. They practise military pursuits only. Their weapons others forge for them, and again others provide horses; others too serve in the camps, those who groom their horses and polish their weapons, guide the elephants, and keep in order and drive the chariots. They themselves, when there is need of war, go to war, but in time of peace they make merry; and they receive so much pay from the community that they can easily from their pay support others.

The sixth class of Indians are those called overseers. They oversee everything that goes on in the country or in the cities; and this they report to the king, where the Indians are governed by kings, or to the authorities, where they are independent. To these it is illegal to make any false report; nor was any Indian ever accused of such falsification.

The seventh class is those who deliberate about the community together with the king, or, in such cities as are self-governing, with the authorities. In number this class is small, but in wisdom and uprightness it bears the palm from all others; from this class are selected their governors, district governors and deputies, custodians of the treasures, officers of army and navy, financial officers and overseers of agricultural works.

The same man may not practise two pursuits; nor change from one class into another, as to turn farmer from shepherd, or shepherd from artisan. It is only permitted to join the wise men out of any class; for their business is not an easy one, but of all most laborious."

[edit] Nepal

The Nepalese caste system resembles that of the Indian Jāti system with numerous Jāti divisions with a Varna system superimposed for a rough equivalence. But since the culture and the society is different some of the things are different. Inscriptions attest the beginnings of a caste system during the Lichchhavi period. Jayasthiti Malla (1382–95) categorized Newars into 64 castes (Gellner 2001). A similar exercise was made during the reign of Mahindra Malla (1506–75). The Hindu social code was later set up in Gorkha by Ram Shah (1603–36).

[edit] Sri Lanka

[edit] Pakistan

Religious, historical and socio-cultural factors have helped define the bounds of endogamy for Muslims in South Asia. There is a preference for endogamous marriages based on the clan-oriented nature of the society, which values and actively seeks similarities in social group identity based on several factors, including religious, sectarian, ethnic, and tribal/clan affiliation. Religious affiliation is itself multi-layered and includes religious considerations other than being Muslim, such as sectarian identity (e.g. Shia or Sunni, etc.) and religious orientation within the sect (Isnashari, Ismaili, Ahmedi, etc.). Both ethnic affiliation (e.g. Sindhi, Baloch, Punjabi, etc.) and membership of specific biraderis or Jaat/quoms are additional integral components of social identity. Within the bounds of endogamy defined by the above parameters, close consanguineous unions are preferred due to a congruence of key features of group- and individual-level background factors as well as affinities.this fact must be remembered that modern Pakistan used to be part of India before 1947,caste system affected the society very little,Hindus changed their religion to Muslims but hierarchy continued.

[edit] Genetic origins of South Asian caste system

A large study done by sahoo et al.(2006) on south asian caste communities have found the origins of south asian caste to be largely south asian in origin with minimal external contributions.[18]

[edit] East Asia

[edit] Bali

[edit] China

The Southern and Northern Dynasties showed such a high level of polarization between North and South that northerners and southerners referred to each other as barbarians. The Mongol Yuan Dynasty also made use of the concept; Yuan subjects were divided into four classes, with northern Han Chinese occupying the second-poorest class and southern Han Chinese the poorest one.[19]

Traditional Yi society in Yunnan was class based. People were split into the Black Yi (nobles, 5% of the population), White Yi (commoners), Ajia (33% of the Yi population) and the Xiaxi (10%). Ajia and Xiaxi were slaves. The White Yi were not slaves but had no freedom of movement. The Black Yi made slave-raids on Han Chinese communities. After 1959, some 700,000 slaves were freed.[20][21][22]

The Tibetan caste system was less rigorous than that in India. In Tibet, there were hereditary professional groups including beggars. Some people of lower castes were forced to live on the outskirts of the villages.[23]

[edit] Japan

Japanese samurai of importance and servant.

The four main classes in Japan were samurai , peasants,craftsmen and merchants. Only the samurai class was allowed to bear arms. A samurai had a right to kill any peasants and other craftsmen and merchants whom he felt were disrespectful. Craftsmen produced products, being the third, and the last merchants were thought to be as the meanest class because they did not produce any products.

Japan historically subscribed to a feudal class system. While modern law has officially abolished the class hierarchy, there are reports of discrimination against the Buraku or Burakumin underclasses, historically referred to by the insulting term Eta.[24] The Burakumin are regarded as "ostracised."[25] The burakumin are one of the main minority groups in Japan, along with the Ainu of Hokkaidō and those of residents of Korean and Chinese descent.

[edit] Korea

The Baekjeong were an "untouchable" minority group of Korea. The term baekjeong literally means "a butcher", but later changed into "common citizens" to change the class system so that the system would be without untouchables. In the early part of the Goryeo period (918-1392), these minority groups were largely settled in fixed communities. However, the Mongol invasion left Korea in disarray and anomie, and these groups became nomadic. Other subgroups of the baekjeong are the chaein and the hwachae.[citation needed] During the Joseon dynasty, they were specific professions like basket weaving and performing executions.

With the unification of the three kingdoms in the 7th century and the foundation of the Goryeo dynasty in the Middle Ages, Koreans systemised its own native class system. At the top were the two official classes, the Yangban that literally means "two classes." It was composed of scholars (Munban) and warriors (Muban). Within the Yangban class, the Scholars (Munban) enjoyed a significant social advantage over the warrior (Muban) class, until the Muban Rebellion in 1170. Muban ruled Korea under successive Warrior Leaders until the Mongol Conquest in 1253. In 1392, with the foundation of Joseon dynasty, the full ascendancy of munban over muban was final.

Beneath the Yangban class were the Jung-in(중인-中人: literally "middle people"). They were the technicians. This class was small and specialized in fields such as medicine, accounting, etc. Beneath the Jung-in were the Sangmin(상민-常民: literally 'commoner'). These were mostly the peasants. Beneath the Sangmin were the Chunmin. They were specialised in lowly professions such as executing, butchering etc. These people composed the majority of Korean society until the 17th century. Underneath them all were the Baekjeong. The meaning today is that of butcher. They originate from the Khitan invasion of Korea in the 11th century. The defeated Khitan invaders who had surrendered were settled in isolated communities throughout Goryeo to forestall rebellion. They were valued for their skills in hunting, herding, butchering, and making of leather, common skill sets among nomads. Over time their ethnic origin was forgotten, and they formed the bottom layer of Korean society. Korea had a very large slave population, nobi, ranging from a third to half of the entire population for most of the millennium between the Silla period and the Joseon Dynasty. Slavery was legally abolished in Korea in 1894 but remained extant in reality until 1930.[26][27][28]

The opening of Korea to foreign Christian missionary activity in the late 19th century saw some improvement in the status of the baekjeong; However, everyone was not equal under the Christian congregation, and protests erupted when missionaries attempted to integrate them into worship services, with non-baekjeong finding such an attempt insensitive to traditional notions of hierarchical advantage.[citation needed] Also around the same time, the baekjeong began to resist the open social discrimination that existed against them.[29] They focused on social and economic injustices affecting the baekjeong, hoping to create an egalitarian Korean society. Their efforts included attacking social discrimination by the upper class, authorities, and "commoners" and the use of degrading language against children in public schools.[30]

With the Gabo reform of 1896, the class system of Korea was officially abolished. However, the Yangban families carried on traditional education and formal mannerisms into the 20th century. With the democratisation of 1990s in South Korea, remnant of such mannerisms and classism is now heavily frowned upon in the South Korean society, replaced by a belief in egalitarianism. However in North Korea, there is still a class system.

[edit] Hawaii

Ancient Hawaii was a class-based society. People were born into specific social classes; social mobility was not unknown, but it was extremely rare. The main classes were:

  • Alii, the royal suuwop class. This class consisted of the high and lesser chiefs of the realms. They governed with divine power called mana.
  • Kahuna, the priestly and professional class. Priests conducted religious ceremonies, at the heiau and elsewhere. Professionals included master carpenters and boat builders, chanters, dancers, genealogists and physicians and healers.
  • Makaāinana, the commoner class. Commoners farmed, fished and exercised the simpler crafts. They laboured not only for themselves and their families, but to support the chiefs and kahuna.
  • Kauwa, the outcast or slave class. They are believed to have been war captives, or the descendants of war captives. Marriage between higher classes and the kauwa was strictly forbidden. The kauwa worked for the chiefs and were often used as human sacrifices at the luakini heiau. (They were not the only sacrifices; law-breakers of all classes or defeated political opponents were also acceptable as victims.)[31]

[edit] West Asia

[edit] Arabian Peninsula

Children in an Akhdam neighbourhood of Ta'izz, Yemen.

Mainstream Arab society can be conceived of as divided into three classes, Bedouin (nomads), farmers fellahin (villagers) and hadar (townspeople), though these are often little more than descriptive. Tribal loyalties are regarded as more important in Arabian society.

[edit] Yemen

In Yemen there exists a further class, the African-descended Al-Akhdam who are kept as perennial manual workers.[32][33] Though conditions have improved somewhat over the past few years, the Khadem are still stereotyped by mainstream Yemenese society, considering them lowly, dirty, ill-mannered and immoral.[citation needed]

[edit] Latin America

Depiction of casta system in Mexico, 18th century

The Spanish and Portuguese colonists of the Americas instituted a relatively loose system of racial and social stratification and segregation based on a person's heritage. The system remained in place in most areas of Spanish America up to the time independence was achieved from Spain. Classes were used to identify people with specific racial or ethnic heritage. However, privileges or restrictions were more related to social status and wealth than to a clearly defined system of classes.

Among the racial classifications used then in Spanish America are: Peninsular, Criollo, Castizo, Mestizo, Cholo, Mulatto, Indio, Zambo and Negro.

[edit] Africa

Countries in Africa who have societies with class systems within their borders include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Somalia.

[edit] West Africa

In West Africa, the osu class systems of eastern Nigeria and southern Cameroon are derived from indigenous religious beliefs and discriminate against the "Osus" people as "owned by deities" and outcasts. The Songhai economy was based on a caste system. The most common were metalworkers, fishermen, and carpenters. Lower caste participants consisted of mostly non-farm working immigrants, who at times were provided special privileges and held high positions in society. At the top were noblemen and direct descendants of the original Songhai people, followed by freemen and traders. At the bottom were war captives and European slaves obligated to labor.[34]

Similarly, the Mandé societies in Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Senegal and Sierra Leone have class systems that divide society by ethnic ties. The Mande class system regards the jonow slaves as inferior. Similarly, the Wolof class system in Senegal is divided into three main groups, the geer (freeborn/nobles), jaam (slaves and slave descendants) and the underclass neeno. In various parts of West Africa, Fulani societies also have class divisions.

[edit] Central Africa

Class systems in Central Africa include the ubuhake classes in Rwanda and Burundi.

[edit] East Africa

The Borana Oromo of southern Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa also have a class system, where the Watta, an acculturated Bantu group, represent the poorest class.

The traditionally nomadic Somali people are divided into clans, wherein the Rahanweyn agro-pastoral clans and the occupational clans such as the Madhiban are sometimes treated as outcasts.[35]

[edit] North Africa

Class systems in North Africa include the Tuareg social stratification.

Sahrawi-Moorish society in Northwest Africa was traditionally (and still is, to some extent) stratified into several tribal classes, with the Hassane warrior tribes ruling and extracting tribute - horma - from the subservient Znaga tribes. Although lines were blurred by intermarriage and tribal re-affiliation, the Hassane were considered descendants of the Arab Maqil tribe Beni Hassan, and held power over Sanhadja Berber-descended zawiya (religious) and znaga (servant) tribes. The so-called Haratin lower class, largely sedentary oasis-dwelling black people, have been considered natural slaves in Sahrawi-Moorish society.[36][37]

In Algeria, "desert Berbers and Arabs usually have a rigid class system, with social ranks ranging from nobles down to an underclass of menial workers (mostly ethnic Africans)"[38]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "caste, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. Accessed 3 April 2011.
  4. ^ Melissa Raphael, Thealogy and embodiment: the post-patriarchal reconstruction of female sacrality. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996. p.110.
  5. ^ Discrimination, UNICEF
  6. ^ "Varna", or "Varna (Hinduism)"
  7. ^ The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950
  8. ^ The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950
  9. ^ "The Caste System". NPR: National Public Radio.
  10. ^ "How India flip-flopped over caste and race at the UN". The Times of India. October 4, 2009.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Discrimination, UNICEF
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India". Yale University.
  17. ^ Mgasthenes's Indika, see section 40.
  18. ^
  19. ^ The 'Four Class System'
  20. ^ Black Bone Yi (people)
  21. ^ General Profile of the Yi
  22. ^ The Yi ethnic minority
  23. ^ "The Making of Modern Tibet", A. T. Grunfeld, 1996. p. 17.
  24. ^ Class, Ethnicity and Nationality: Japan Finds Plenty of Space for Discrimination
  25. ^ William H. Newell (December 1961). "The Comparative Study of Caste in India and Japan". Asian Survey 1 (10): 3–10. doi:10.1525/as.1961.1.10.01p15082. JSTOR 3023467. 
  26. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica - Slavery
  27. ^ Edward Willett Wagner - The Harvard University Gazette
  28. ^ Korean Nobi
  29. ^ Kim, Joong-Seop (1999). "In Search of Human Rights: The Paekchŏng Movement in Colonial Korea". In Gi-Wook Shin and Michael Robinson. Colonial Modernity in Korea. pp. 326. ISBN 0674005945. 
  30. ^ Kim, Joong-Seop (2003). The Korean Paekjŏng under Japanese rule: the quest for equality and human rights. pp. 147. 
  31. ^ Kapu System and Class System of Ancient Hawai'i
  32. ^ Akhdam: Ongoing suffering for lost identity Yemen Mirror
  33. ^ IRIN
  34. ^ African Kingdoms Songhai Class System
  35. ^ I. M. Lewis, A pastoral democracy: a study of pastoralism and politics among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa, (LIT Verlag Berlin-Hamburg-Münster: 1999), pp.13-14
  36. ^ Fair elections haunted by racial imbalance
  37. ^ Mauritanian MPs pass slavery law by BBC News
  38. ^ Oxfam by 'ethnic Africans' it is meant negro

[edit] References

  • Spectres of Agrarian Territory by David Ludden December 11, 2001
  • "Early Evidence for Caste in South India", p. 467-492 in Dimensions of Social Life: Essays in honor of David G. Mandelbaum, Edited by Paul Hockings and Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, Amsterdam, 1987.

[edit] External links

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