The title here is even less serious than in the previous post.
The following appears in an unusually long footnote to “Private Truths, Public Lies”:
“It has been argued that European scholarship standardized Hindu ideology and elevated the significance of such concepts as caste and reincarnation. By this account, elaborated by Ashis Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism […], the British helped construct the caste-centered worldview and also promoted the solidification of historically fluid caste distinctions. These claims are implausible. First of all, few of the Indians whom European researchers identified as sharing the Hindu worldview had prior contact with the British. Second, a disproportionate share of those who had some prior contact, like the British-educated elites, became leading anticaste activists. Third, if Indians were easily brainwashed by the British, it is highly unlikely that until then their minds were immune to the pressures of their own culture. Finally, a cadre of rulers cannot reshape a nation’s thought patterns at will. Anticaste reformists who have sought to emancipate the untouchables from the grip of “brahman ideology” know this through experience. As noted by Khare, Untouchable as Himself, […] their campaigns against the caste ethic have encountered resistance from the very people they wanted to help.”
The bit about rulers turning fluid conceptions into hard-and-fast rules sounds like James Scott’s “Seeing Like a State”. And of course in his later book, “The Art of Not Being Governed”, he claimed that tribes are fluid things constructed by states. Scott doesn’t treat colonial governments as being that different from pre-colonial or post-colonial governments though. There is no reference to caste in the index to either book though.