Casting Kings: Bards and Indian Modernity
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Casting Kings: Bards and Indian Modernity

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Based on three years of anthropological fieldwork in the Indian state of Rajasthan, Casting Kings explores the manner in which semi-nomadic performers known as Bhats understand, and also subvert, caste hierarchies. A number of scholars have recently contended that caste is invented and thus a fiction of a kind. But focus in these studies is typically placed on the way caste is imagined according to the agendas and desires of elite Westerners such as colonial officials. In this book, by contrast, the author argues that Bhats themselves understand the imaginative dimensions of caste relations. Indeed, such insights are shown to lie at the heart of the Bhats traditional profession of praise- and insult-singing. Likewise, the author demonstrates how the ability to cleverly rework and even sabotage lingering caste inequalities continues to form the basis for Bhat claims to status and dignity in contemporary India.

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