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Pariah is a cruel word. For most speakers of English today, only the dimmest memory of what it once meant survives. But for its victims the cruelty is not forgotten, because it is not just a memory. This is a book about the joint efforts of native elites and British colonizers to avoid facing the fact that they were the beneficiaries of that cruelty.
The book shows how landlords, state officials, and well-intentioned missionaries conceptualized Dalit oppression in a way that foreclosed any real solutions. After all, the entire agrarian political-economic system depended on the unfree labor of those classed as untouchable.