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"Brâhmins of the Pariahs" : Peripheries in Quest of Identity: The Valluvar of Tamil Nadu and the Construction of Dalit Identity in South India

Abstract : The purpose of this article is to analyse the special place the Valluvar community occupies within Tamil society and their current process of identity construction. Considered popularly as “Brahmins of the Paraiyars”, the Valluvars have relationships with caste people in their role of traditional rural astrologers and physicians, and enjoy a particular status among Untouchable communities due to their toḻil (traditional occupation). First of all, I will analyse the etic and emic discourses on the Valluvar community, through the work of scholars and through local discourses, in order to draw the contours of this particular identity. Then, drawing on data collected during three years of fieldwork in rural Tamil Nadu, I intend to show how the special position of the Valluvars within Tamil society is related to the notion of knowledge. Finally, I will focus on Valluvar self-assertion and analyse their identity construction process.
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Submitted on : Friday, July 1, 2022 - 6:48:06 PM
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Alexis Avdeeff. "Brâhmins of the Pariahs" : Peripheries in Quest of Identity: The Valluvar of Tamil Nadu and the Construction of Dalit Identity in South India. Marine Carrin ; Lidia Guzy. Voices from the Periphery. Subalternity and Empowerment in India, Routledge India, pp.250-271, 2016, 978-1138662452. ⟨10.4324/9781003157922-11⟩. ⟨halshs-01819081⟩

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