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Keywords:

  • democracy;
  • morality;
  • subalterns;
  • postcoloniality;
  • the vernacular;
  • civil society;
  • political society

In this article, I consider intercaste negotiations in defining ethically desirable sociopolitical relationships in contemporary Orissa, India. Democratization following local self-government reforms led to the inclusion of hitherto marginalized voices in local political dialogue. Particularly notable is subalterns' employment of egalitarian sacrificial ethics to reinterpret the ontology of caste as founded on participation and cooperation of equal parts rather than on the colonially traditionalized hegemonic values of hierarchy and domination. This may be seen as an attempt to establish a vernacular democracy that mediates embodied sociopolitical morality and the idea and institution of equal participation.