Where Does Caste Fit in A Global History of Racial Capitalism?

Sheetal Chhabria
This paper asks how whether and how caste fits into a global history of racial capitalism? The misidentification of caste as custom has long misled analysts and thwarted solidarities. Drawing on the insights of two important literatures, this paper seeks to remedy that misdiagnosis and show that 1) caste abolition must be central to any effective anti-capitalist politics in South Asia, 2) a focus on ‘local’ systems of racialization like caste is necessary in any history of global racial capitalism. The two literatures I engaged with to achieve these aims are: scholarship on racial capitalism and scholarship on the Indian transition to capitalism. The result is an expanding of the geography of racial capitalism and the centering of caste-based unfreedoms as central to the history of capitalism in the Indian subcontinent.