Myths of meritocracy

caste, karma and the new racism, a comparative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The discourse of karma (behaviour), confounded with inherent psychic and material substance of the person/group (guna), was at the heart of India’s caste ideology. This systematic and intuitive, albeit convoluted and phantasmic doctrine was critical to bridge the discrepancy between a pantheistic religious imaginary and the reality of exclusion and abjection. Although “karma” evokes an exotic orient, this ideology is near identical with the ideas of “idleness” and “instant gratification” used to make sense of racial inequities in the contemporary United States. In both cases, the idea of behavioural and moral deficiency is used to justify evident abjection and discrimination, within the frame of an encompassing ideology of social equality. Thus, this use of the notions of “work” and “discipline”, extrapolated to the moral quality of the group or individual, is no passing argument of the “new racism”. It is a proven ploy of assigning blame on the victim.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2693-2710
Number of pages18
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Volume41
Issue number15
DOIs
StatePublished - 8 Dec 2018

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meritocracy
caste
racism
myth
ideology
doctrine
equality
discrimination
exclusion
Group
human being
discourse

Keywords

  • Race
  • caste
  • guna
  • karma
  • meritocracy
  • neo-liberalism

Cite this

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title = "Myths of meritocracy: caste, karma and the new racism, a comparative study",
abstract = "The discourse of karma (behaviour), confounded with inherent psychic and material substance of the person/group (guna), was at the heart of India’s caste ideology. This systematic and intuitive, albeit convoluted and phantasmic doctrine was critical to bridge the discrepancy between a pantheistic religious imaginary and the reality of exclusion and abjection. Although “karma” evokes an exotic orient, this ideology is near identical with the ideas of “idleness” and “instant gratification” used to make sense of racial inequities in the contemporary United States. In both cases, the idea of behavioural and moral deficiency is used to justify evident abjection and discrimination, within the frame of an encompassing ideology of social equality. Thus, this use of the notions of “work” and “discipline”, extrapolated to the moral quality of the group or individual, is no passing argument of the “new racism”. It is a proven ploy of assigning blame on the victim.",
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Myths of meritocracy : caste, karma and the new racism, a comparative study. / Singh, Vikash.

In: Ethnic and Racial Studies, Vol. 41, No. 15, 08.12.2018, p. 2693-2710.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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