Cover: The Caste of Merit: Engineering Education in India, from Harvard University PressCover: The Caste of Merit in HARDCOVER

The Caste of Merit

Engineering Education in India

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Product Details

HARDCOVER

$52.00 • £41.95 • €47.00

ISBN 9780674987883

Publication Date: 12/03/2019

Text

384 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

World

In India—as in the United States and elsewhere—academic advancement rarely occurs without a foundation of family privilege. Focusing on the IIT in Madras, Subramanian shows how upper-caste Tamil graduates have converted their caste privilege into professional prestige and resisted attempts to increase the enrollment of lower-caste groups.—Andrew J. Nathan, Foreign Affairs

A critique of casteism and growing inequality, this book also doubles as a fascinating history of IIT. Best read in Straussian fashion as a sympathetic story of origins.—Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

What does ‘merit’—which is often posed as the ideal criterion for university admissions—really mean in a context where caste pervades public life? Drawing on a rich ethnography focused on the IIT Madras, in the South Indian city of Chennai, Subramanian argues that in ‘merit,’ upper-caste Indians find a liberal and secular rendering of caste… In both India and America, Subramanian argues, a fantasy of having transcended identity politics has allowed for the entrenchment of power.—Sneha Krishnan, Public Books

An original, incisive, and scrupulous work of historical anthropology… With a particular focus on IIT Madras and Tamil Nadu, Subramanian explores the psychology and the demographics of India’s new engineers, and the politics of caste, class, and reservations.—Namit Arora, The Caravan

Provides interesting insights into the colonial history of engineering education and associated racialization of caste and the making of IITs in postcolonial India as a Brahmin–upper caste space… An excellent book that those interested in sociology of education and meritocracy in India cannot ignore.—Suryakant Waghmore, Economic and Political Weekly

Provides interesting insights into the colonial history of engineering education and associated racialization of caste, and the making of IITs in postcolonial India as an Brahmin-upper caste space… An excellent book that those interested in sociology of education and meritocracy in India cannot ignore.—Suryakant Waghmore, Scroll

The Caste of Merit is a brilliant contribution to the study of both privilege and meritocracy in contemporary India. It is a powerful intervention in our ongoing debates about diasporic mobility and a genuinely novel treatment of caste as an enduring reality for those struggling to make their way in today’s world of competitive high-tech career trajectories. A distinguished and innovative work, both ethnographically and theoretically.—Susan Bayly, author of Caste, Society and Politics in India

Subramanian’s book is profoundly historical, with a broad focus on the evolution of technical education and social life since the colonial period, as well as the ways caste continues to shape power and hierarchies in contemporary India. A valuable contribution to the growing literature on caste and its reproduction in modern times.—Surinder S. Jodhka, author of Caste in Contemporary India

India’s legendary IITs deserve close study by an anthropologist, and Ajantha Subramanian has produced a remarkable work that lets us see behind the curtain.—Ross Bassett, author of The Technological Indian

The Caste of Merit depicts how upper-caste Indians remade themselves through the ideology of meritocracy. Through her richly detailed ethnography, Ajantha Subramanian sheds new light on the troubling relationship between meritocracy and the reproduction of inequality. A must-read for anyone interested in how meritocracy works in contemporary societies.—Shamus Khan, author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School

With a rare combination of originality and intellectual rigor, Subramanian provides a masterful and disturbing analysis of democratic ideals, meritocracy, and the endurance of caste at the paramount higher education institutions of modern India. A timely and impressive achievement.—Assa Doron, coauthor of Waste of a Nation

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