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Caste : the origins of our discontents  Cover Image Book Book

Caste : the origins of our discontents / Isabel Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, Isabel, (author.).


""As we go about our daily lives, caste is the wordless usher in a darkened theater, flashlight cast down in the aisles, guiding us to our assigned seats for a performance. The hierarchy of caste is not about feelings or morality. It is about power--which groups have it and which do not. In this book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity"-- Provided by the publisher.

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780593230251
  • ISBN: 0593230256
  • Physical Description: xvii, 476 pages ; 25 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Random House, [2020]

Content descriptions

General Note:
"Oprah's book club, 2020"--Book jacket.
Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Formatted Contents Note:
The man in the crowd -- Part one: Toxins in the permafrost and heat rising all around. Chapter one: The afterlife of pathogens -- The Vitals of History -- Chapter two: An old house and an infrared light -- Chapter three: An American untouchable -- An Invisible Program -- Part two: The arbitrary construction of human divisions. Chapter four: A long-running play and emergence of caste in America -- Chapter five: "The Container We Have Built for You" -- Chapter six: The measure of humanity -- Chapter seven: Through the fog of Delhi to the parallels in India and America -- Chapter eight: The Nazis and the acceleration of caste -- Chapter nine: The Evil of Silence -- Part three: The eight pillars of caste. The foundations of caste: The Origins of Our Discontents -- Pillar number one: Divine will and the laws of nature -- Pillar number two: Heritability -- Pillar number three: Endogamy and the control of marriage and mating -- Pillar number four: Purity versus pollution -- Pillar number five: Occupational hierarchy: The Jatis and the Mudsill -- Pillar number six: Dehumanization and stigma -- Pillar number seven: Terror as enforcement, cruelty as a means of control -- Pillar number eight: Inherent superiority versus inherent inferiority -- Part four: The tentacles of caste. Brown eyes versus blue eyes -- Chapter ten: Central miscasting -- Chapter eleven: Dominant group status threat and the precarity of the highest rung -- Chapter twelve: A scapegoat to beat the sins of the world -- Chapter thirteen: The insecure Alpha and the purpose of an underdog -- Chapter fourteen: The intrusion of caste in everyday life -- Chapter fifteen: The urgent necessity of a bottom rung -- Chapter sixteen: Last place anxiety: Packed in a flooding basement -- Chapter seventeen: On the early front lines of caste -- Chapter eighteen: Satchel Paige and the illogic of caste -- Part five: The consequences of caste. Chapter nineteen: The Euphoria of Hate -- Chapter twenty: The inevitable narcissism of caste -- Chapter twenty-one: The German girl with the dark, wavy hair -- Chapter twenty-two: The Stockholm Syndrome and the survival of the subordinate caste -- Chapter twenty-three: Shock troops on the borders of hierarchy -- Chapter twenty-four: Cortisol, telomeres and the lethality of caste -- Part six: Backlash, Chapter twenty-five: A change in the script -- Chapter twenty-six: Turning point and the resurgence of caste -- Chapter twenty-seven: The symbols of caste -- Chapter twenty-eight: Democracy on the ballot -- Chapter twenty-nine: The price we pay for a caste system -- Part seven: Awakening. Chapter thirty: Shedding the sacred thread -- The Radicalization of the Dominant Caste -- Chapter thirty-one: The heart is the last frontier -- Epilogue: A world without caste.
Subject: Caste > United States.
Social stratification > United States.
Social classes > United States.
Classism > United States.
Ethnicity > United States.
Power (Social sciences) > United States.
United States > Race relations.
United States > Ethnic relations.
Social Class.
Ethnic Groups.
Race Relations.
United States.
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Social Classes & Economic Disparity.
HISTORY / Social History.
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Social Theory.
Power (Social sciences)
Race relations.
Ethnic relations.
Social stratification.
Social classes.
United States.

Available copies


  • 0 current holds with 2 total copies.
Show Only Available Copies
Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Bronson Branch 305.5122 WIL (Text) 35403424166341 Non-Fiction Available -
Coldwater Branch 305.5122 WIL (Text) 35401425170635 Non-Fiction Available -

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