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Conveners: Alpa Shah, Lecturer in Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London Sara Shneiderman, Research Fellow, St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge.

This panel invites scholars to consider inequality and affirmative action in South Asia. The debates over affirmative action policies of positive discrimination, quotas or reservations for historical redress of social inequality in South Asia remain hotly contested. In India, controversies over the classification of particular peoples have been reinvigorated by a new identity politics through which several groups are violently seeking to be included into reserved status. The challenges of incorporating the most marginalized and the needy, which draw on a long history of debates of caste versus class issues, continue – the Supreme Court for instance has ruled that the more advantaged amongst the OBCS should be excluded from reserved status. At the same time, economic liberalization has gone hand in hand with new demands of meritocracy but also pressure for the corporate sector to be more inclusive. In Nepal, the new Maoist-led Constituent Assembly is debating constitutional provisions for reservations. The next Nepali census, to be conducted in 2011, will become the primary demographic reference point for the subsequent implementation of affirmative action and undoubtedly the site for a politics of recognition of groups seeking both indigenous nationality status and the provision of OBC classification. Neoliberal influences of the international development industry and its classifications in Nepal will affect the country’s policies on affirmative action. We welcome papers that will explore crucial issues facing the future of affirmative action policy in India and Nepal but also papers that describe comparable dynamics elsewhere in South Asia, particularly Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Across the Interface of ‘Tribal’ Recognition: notes on the problems and possibilities of state ethnography.
Townsend Middleton, Cornell University, Department of Anthropology.

Questioning the Creamy Layer: a reservation “success story” from Rajasthan.
Megan Moodie, University of California, Santa Cruz Department of Anthropology.

Categorical Tensions: The “indigenous tribes” of Meghalaya.
Bengt G. Karlsson, Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology, Uppsala University, Sweden.

Some Reservations in Cheering on Reservations: Caste/Tribe, Class and Education in Jharkhand, India.
Robert Higham, Education, Institute of Education, University of London and
Alpa Shah, Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London.

They have it in their stomachs but they can’t vomit it up’: Reservations and ‘caste feeling in South India.
Clarinda Still, Modern Indian Studies, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, University of Oxford.

The politics of aspiration: reservation and political competition in Uttar Pradesh.
Lucia Michelutti, University of Oxford.

Education, Affirmative Action and Socio-political Unrest in Sri Lanka.
Siri Hettige, Department of Sociology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Discrimination, Recognition and Entitlement.
Jagannath Ambagudia, Department of Political Science, Rajdhani College, University of Delhi.

Creating a Culture of Marginality.
Sara Shneiderman, Research Fellow, St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge.

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