Tidbit: Dead, White, or Canadian?

I was reading an article on possible first women presidents of the United States now that Hillary Clinton's almost definitely out.  Buried in the article is the name of the San Francisco District Attorney, Kamala Harris, whom I had never heard of before.  She's listed as an "African-American" woman but more specifically, she's mixed race--half Black and half Indian.  Harris was raised from age 5 by her Tam Bram mother Dr. Shymala-- who married, had children with, and split up with a Black man but still needs work on her rhetoric: "We are Brahmins, that is the top caste. Please do not confuse this with class, which is only about money. For Brahmins, the bloodline is the most important. My family, named Gopalan, goes back more than 1,000 years."

Kamala Harris later went to the renowned Howard University, dated Willie Brown, became San Francisco DA, is now a 'rising star' in the Democratic Party, blah blah blah.  So in light of the discussion of Mr. Jindal earlier, I think this is an interesting case.  Is she the anti-Jindal or the flipside within the same discourse? A San Francisco District Attorney who runs on a tough on crime platform for office is certainly no Bhairavi Desai.  But then these admittedly simplistic dichotomies are rorshach tests for the observer, not very good assessors of the people under discussion - so you make the call and we'll see where it takes us.

Enjoy your Sunday morning, darlings.

Trackback URL for this post:



The humanities as we know

The humanities as we know them today - that includes all three subjects you list - are entirely informed by the Protestant Reformation.

Yes of course and these ideas have been significantly historicized and epistemologically challenged over time by people like Bernard Cohn, Nicholas Dirks, Stephen Jay Gould, etc etc etc etc. but social hierarchies and the such are both deconstructable and simultaneously have real world effects - the same way that nationalisms and religion can be deconstructed and still exert a real influence in the world.

What an interesting

What an interesting questions. Truth be told, I have met many more people like Kamala Harris than I have Bobby Jindal, who is *so* blue-blooded conservative that I feel like he's disassociated from this immigrant past entirely. But Kamala seems to be holding on to her identity primarily as a way to emphasize her 'exotic-ness' -- her privileged difference in a society whose new buzz word is multicultural (although, it should be stated that this is the first time I've heard of Kamala and thus need to do more research. My intense dislike for Jindal has been festering for some time now). Either method (to emphasize superficially or deny entirely) doesn't do justice to the true complexity of being multicultural, and comes across as quite shallow.

I can see consequences for either side-- but politically and socially Jindal is just much more scary, no matter who you pit him against.

Doc, I have said this before,

Doc, I have said this before, and will say it again. You need a crash course in The Heathen in His Blindness http://colonial.consciousness.googlepages.com/theheatheninhisblindness. The book is available for free at this site, with a question paper to test the reader.

okay, i read the introduction

okay, i read the introduction and don't understand how this is relevant to the discussion about the socioeconomic position and utility of Kamala Harris in comparison to Bobby Jindal for people interested in South Asian identity in the U.S. and American politics.

Also, the treatment in the introduction about "culture" and "religion" completely left out any discussion of political economy, as far as I saw, which is an important component of these sorts of analyses, even if to establish that it has no role (which I seriously doubt).

Of what use is deconstructing

Of what use is deconstructing a hierarchy when it is assumed?

To take apart the assume categories, look at their relevance, and reassemble them into something resembling coherence. For example, see the work done on "intermediate classes" and class structure in India more generally by K.N. Raj, Mushtaq Khan, Barbara Harriss White, Arjun Sengupta, and others - it's fair to say that these people--who are the 35-40% in the middle by various criteria-- should be described as the "Indian Middle class", not the extremely wealthy people who generally are.

If they are or even if they're not but the social structure is better understood, it has enormous implications for how we understand politics and economics in india (and perhaps elsewhere).

Doc Anon, Bernard Cohn and

Doc Anon,

Bernard Cohn and his student Nick Dirks have simply catalogued the colonial categorisation of people. Social hierarchy comes from somewhere else, Marx, and he too is but a product of the Reformation. Of what use is deconstructing a hierarchy when it is assumed?

This is totally off-topic,

This is totally off-topic, but I clicked on the Desi link and got:

"Bhairavi Desai (pronounced BAY-rah-vee Dah-SIGH)"


politically and socially

politically and socially Jindal is just much more scary, no matter who you pit him against.

Most definitely. But in the aggregate, are the only two choices we have as 'role models' ultraconservatives (in some senses) like Jindal and establishment figures (read: conservative?) like Harris? And is the good-cop, bad-cop routine that the establishment seems to give us more damaging than The Fear Of Jindal? Or does it open up more space for radicals to engage with people like Harris?

Not clear, especially because I know so little about her. but I do know a lot of desi lawyers :) But not mixed-race desi-black lawyers who are racially signed as half black and half Indian.

Doc Anon, The very casting of

Doc Anon,

The very casting of an "identity" or the empirical reality of caste is very different from the way the post-Reformation intellectual order sees it. The humanities as we know them today - that includes all three subjects you list - are entirely informed by the Protestant Reformation. When Kamala Harris talks about her lineage she is talking about tradition. When Jindal turns conservative he is accepting a certain doctrine, and what Baalu would dub an Explanatorily Intelligible Account of the Cosmos. What is this idea of identity? There's a quick and dirty lecture by Baalu that can be accessed here http://www.cultuurwetenschap.be/DOWNLOADS/Inter-Religious_Dialogue.pdf

What we think of identity and go to great lengths to protect is the wrong description of that entity - not false.

lol. it took me a good 5

lol. it took me a good 5 minute to figure out what you were talking about, but i understand now and agree :)

I bet you lot hate me by now

I bet you lot hate me by now ;).

We don't hate you--hate is for suckas!

Do you know the name of the professor?

Sorry that i'm off-topic yet

Sorry that i'm off-topic yet again, but I just stumbled upon an article that i wanted to talk about here. apparently there is some professor in Canada that is associated with the anti-immigration movement there who tried to argue that that South Asians have lower IQs. I heard from South Asian blogger in Canada that the model-minority myth doesn't really exist and that the poverty rate is much higher. I personally cannot imagine a researcher coming out and saying this in the States because of the prevalence of the opposite stereotype. I don't know much about race relations in Canada, but it makes me think about how class and intelligence factor into racialization.

*heard from a

*heard from a

agh, i meant to type "how

agh, i meant to type "how class and immigration policies factor into racialization".

I bet you lot hate me by now ;).

Rushton from University of

Rushton from University of Western Ontario.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.