Roundup: Caste & Race Around the World

Roundup: Caste & Race Around the World

Why you should care

Because the U.S. isn’t the only country dealing with issues of race.

As seen vividly in Ferguson, Missouri, these months, the U.S. has race problems. Some say us-and-them, tribalism and stratification are habits as old as humankind. We’d like to doubt that, but there’s no denying they’re widespread.

Caste Consciousness in India

All these years after independence, caste remains the elephant in India’s room, the albatross it can’t shake off. Those in lower castes are routinely discriminated against, and intercaste marriages can incite hatred. Theoretically, India’s affirmative action policies aim to end such exclusion. But those policies, which took effect 25 years ago, have a darker origin story than you might expect. As much in politics does, they began with one guy’s hunger for revenge. Read the story here.

Rwanda’s Untouchable Tribe

Twenty years after the Rwandan genocide, there’s been endless study devoted to the history and animosity between two of the nation’s tribes: Hutus and Tutsis. Yet not much is ever said about Rwanda’s little-known third tribe: the Batwa. Although anthropologists say these are the region’s original forest-dwelling inhabitants, the estimated 34,000 Batwa (also known as Twa, or Pygmies) make up just 0.4 percent of the population and exist at the margins of society. As Rwanda turns into a prosperous nation with a fast-growing economy, the Batwa are being left behind. Read the story here.

Deisy Toussaint: Dominican Firebrand

Deisy Toussaint doesn’t seem like a political firebrand. Her country discriminated against migrants from neighboring Haiti, as well as their children, and one of her parents is Haitian, but Toussaint paid little mind. However, when the battle came to her door, Toussaint, a writer, wielded her pen and became a leading spokesperson for Haitian migrant rights. Her journey starkly illuminates a legal conflict that rendered stateless an estimated 210,000 Dominicans with Haitian parents. Read the story here.

Forgetting How to Speak Russian

In the 23 years since the fall of the USSR, Russia has lost its magnetic pull on Central Asian countries such as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and nowhere is this shift more dramatic than in what language people speak. Knowing Russian used to be a key to success in Central Asia, but now it’s taking a backseat to English and other languages. Does it really matter? Actually, yes. The de-Russification of Central Asia could allow the region to shake off quite a bit of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence and thus impact his global pull. Read the story here.

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