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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

The Politics of Caste in India's New Land Wars

Nielsen, Kenneth Bo; Sareen, Siddharth; Oskarsson, Patrik


In this article we introduce the special issue through framing the debate on the role of caste in India's current land wars. We draw attention to how caste consistently mediates land transfers in present day India by pre-empting, undermining, or fuelling processes of social contestation, as well as the ways in which land claims in turn shape realigned or reimagined caste identities. Based on this, we make three main arguments. The first and most obvious one is that in contemporary conflicts over land, caste matters in evolving ways that deserve attention. Second, we argue that caste and land are recursively linked categories that are produced and reproduced in continuous interaction, even as multi-scalar political economies (re)shape them. And third, that different registers of caste are articulated by different social groups in more or less overt ways as they stake often competing claims to land.


Land wars; caste; power; land grabbing; dispossession

Published in

Journal of Contemporary Asia
2020, Volume: 50, number: 5, pages: 684-695

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Human Geography

    Publication Identifiers


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