Cattle poisoning and the Chamar identity
in Beastly encounters of the Raj
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This chapter focuses much more on the activities, ideas, and notions of colonial officials, and less on the indigenous responses to them. It highlights the process whereby the identity of Dukhi Chamars, popularly known as leather workers was crystallised. The chapter focuses on the legal–judicial mechanism, the nature and meanings of what was known as 'oriental crime', the use of scientific rationale to establish crime, and the larger process of crystallisation of caste stereotypes. It then deals with certain fundamental questions regarding the incidence and spread of cattle poisoning. Cattle poisoning as a crime made its first major appearance in 1854, when George Campbell claimed to have single-handedly unearthed an extensive network of Chamar poisoners who allegedly indulged in the crime for the sake of hides.

Beastly encounters of the Raj

Livelihoods, livestock and veterinary health in North India, 1790–1920


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