- Giving back: Diaspora philanthropy and the transnationalisation of caste in Guntur (India)
Willem van Schendel
- Award date
- 6 December 2016
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This thesis is an anthropological study of a group of highly educated transnational migrants belonging to the agrarian landowning elite of Coastal Andhra Pradesh, who have settled in the USA and other western countries. This affluent regional diaspora has engaged extensively in philanthropic projects for social development (especially in education, health and rural development) in their home region. Based on 15 months of field research carried out in Andhra and the US, the thesis examines the discursive and processual aspects of the philanthropic practices of this diaspora. The study offers insights into how a transnational community is shaped that remains culturally and materially rooted in Andhra and its regional social formations of caste, class and kinship.
The thesis further traces how transnational philanthropy has become institutionalised within diasporic associations and within the local state in Guntur district. In this case, the institutionalisation of philanthropy is shown to be a mutation of earlier forms of ‘giving’ that have colonial roots, in which caste became a principle axis of community formation and assertion, and patronage within the caste - a key modality of building caste solidarity. With the global dispersal of this regionally dominant group and the accumulation of economic and cultural capital through migration, this older caste habitus has been reproduced but also altered in particular ways. These transnational practices of giving are enmeshed in a neoliberal economy and in governance practices, thereby reconstituting older structures and forms of dominance in Coastal Andhra within the contemporary globalising political-economic formation.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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