Despite the non-recognition of caste identity by the Pakistani state, caste relations are a pervasive feature of everyday life, particularly in small-town and rural Pakistan. Using the case of the transformation of a formerly lower caste of potters into an important mercantile group in Pakistani Punjab, the speaker argues how changes in caste relations manifest themselves as processes of cultural change occurring at an everyday level. These changes are best understood through the intersection of processes of economic mobility, Islamic piety and emulation of certain high caste practices, encapsulated in the concept of Ashrafization, the Muslim equivalent of Sanskritization.
Muhammad Ali Jan is currently a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, University of Oxford who works on the rural sociology of Pakistan and in particular on Pakistani Punjab. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the MSc in Contemporary South Asia Program at the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies.