Katyayani Dalmia

Katyayani Dalmia

University of Zurich
Dalmia pic

Katyayani Dalmia is a postdoctoral research associate at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies (ISEK), University of Zurich. After studying Sociology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, she earned a PhD in Anthropology from The New School for Social Research, New York. Katyayani’s research, and current book project, investigate how people link bodily traits with caste, class and gender in everyday life in North India. She is also currently working on an edited volume, “The Life of Beauty,” with Anne Kukuczka and Dominique Grisard, forthcoming in 2023 with Seismo Press.

Talk Information:

The Capacity of Color: Skin Tone, Caste, and the Embodiment of Difference
September 2, 2022 | 9:00 AM

How is colorism a component of casteism? How does bodily appearance shape the experience of the self, and assessments of others, in a context informed by differences of caste, religion and class? Drawing from long term ethnographic fieldwork in the North Indian city of Lucknow, in this talk I examine how skin tone and other corporeal features are lived in everyday interactions. Literature from across disciplines has brought out the diverse forms that racialization takes in different cultural and political contexts, as well as the interaction of colorism with gender and class. In India, caste is additionally a key vector for stigmatizing darker complexions. Focusing on case studies, I attempt to bring out how external bodily features are part of ideas of caste, and how skin tone is experienced within this dynamic.

For further reading:

On non-European ideas of whiteness: 

L Ayu Saraswati, 2013, Seeing Beauty, Sensing Race in Transnational Indonesia (University of Hawaii Press)  

On forms of racialization in contemporary India:

Rohini Rai, 2021, “From Colonial Mongoloid to Neoliberal Northeastern: theorizing race, racialisation and racism in contemporary India” (Asian Ethnicity 

On colorism and marriage migration in India:   

Reena Kukreja, 2021, “Colorism as Marriage Capital: Cross-Region Marriage Migration in India and Dark-Skinned Migrant Brides” (Gender and Society, Vol 35, No. 1, 85-109)   

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