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PARIAH MINORITIES / Vol. 70, No. 1 (Spring 2003)

Arien Mack, Editor

The article discusses various reports published within the issue, including one on the Roma and another on the Dalit in India.

The article discusses the mythology of parental impression which explains the paradox of children who differ from their parents in color of the skin. The mythology argues that whatever a woman thinks of or sees during conception affects the physical form of the child. This doctrine is well known in ancient Israel, Greece, ancient India and Europe in the twentieth century. The mythology in the Hebrew Bible is applied only to animal husbandry. However, in Indian literature since the third century before the common era (CE), and in Greek and Hebrew literature from the third or fourth century in the CE, the mythology in transferred to stories about human beings.

The article discusses the investigation conducted by the American Freedmen's Inquiry Commission which investigated the social condition of Afro-American population in the US following the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. During their investigation, the three commissioners Robert Dale Owen, Samuel Gridley Howe, and James McKaye, faced several obstacles that were directly related to the magnitude of the matters under consideration, the size of the terrain, and the lack of institutional experience. The commission was specifically established to investigate practical organizational information. However, the commission was tempted to seek information about, to imagine, and theorize racial difference.

The article focuses on the social condition of dalits or scheduled tribes in India. Dalit or "crushed underfoot" or "broken into pieces," is the modern version of the word "Untouchable." The dalit has been officially excluded from religion, education, and is a pariah in the whole sanctified universe of the "dvija." Unlike racial minorities, dalits are physically indistinguishable from upper castes. At around 150 million, dalits form 2 percent of India's population. As a result of legally reserved allocation in government and state educational institutions, sections of dalits are emerging from agricultural poverty to middle class.

The article discusses the social conditions of Roma in Europe. While in many Roman countries Roma cannot formally make political organizations founded on ethnicity, Roma political organizing is developing. Almost everywhere, the Roma groups emerges at all levels, from the grassroots as well as the national. International organizations are also taking place. The Romani movement in Central and Eastern Europe has come into a period of consciousness establishing along identity lines, directed at mass mobilization and political participation. Whether the Romani movement will lean toward anachronistic, trivial nationalist consolidation, or form a new civic mobilization with a vision drawing its power from new...

The article presents a paper which relates one of the most ubiquitous myths the hijras tell regarding their historicity, and invokes the figure of Rama, the hero of pan-Indian epic, Ramayana. According to the myth, when Rama left the city of Ayodhya, India to go into exile, all the inhabitant of the city followed him to the banks of the river to bid him goodbye. Rama addressed to his people telling all men and women to go back to their homes. The hijras, being neither women nor men, did not return but waited for Rama's return after 14 years. Touched by their devotion, Rama blessed the hijras and told them to rule the land in Kaliyuga.

The article examines the extent of the analytic concept by which the modern societies approach the study of included outcasts such as pariah. Although it was Hannah Arendt made the "Jew as pariah" fashionable, Max Weber made him scientifically respectable. The Jews played a significant role in Weber's historical sociology. They stimulated Weber's concept formation in the sociology of religion, which led to concepts like ethical prophecy, salvation religiosity, and rational ethical religiosity. Weber's dialectal messianism, his fusion of godliness and worldliness in the form of an economic spirituality, was the result of a historiography very similar to Saint Augustine.

The article focuses on medieval Jewish community's internal attitudes toward its own lepers. It was noted that although living in their own society, practicing their own religion, and treated by the surrounding Christian majority as a pariah minority, the Jews probably have similar beliefs and notions regarding the sick, deformed, and the mentally disturbed. Jewish attitudes towards lepers were than a simple mirror image of common practice in the Christian world. It was found that Jews related to lepers as a danger that must be avoided. In assessing the Jewish response to leprosy and lepers in their community, several factors may have played a role including community size.

The article discusses the origin of pariah community known as "burakumin" in Japan. The burakumin has been politically active since 1890s and, despite government efforts to restrain their activity, the Suiheisha or National Leveler's Society was formed in 1922. The movement calls for the complete emancipation promised in an 1871 edict, including economic and occupational freedom and protection of member's dignity. The movement remained active until 1930s, however, it was revived in the 1950s as the Buraku Liberation League and continued to demand for a comprehensive program of improvements for its group.

The article discusses the pariah minority status of Kurds. Arab ethnic chauvinism is a great factor in the Kurds' pariah status in Iraq and Syria. The ideals of the ruling Ba'th party in both countries assigns second-class status for non-Arabs. The success of Iraq's Kurdish minority in areas freed from Saddam Hussein's autocracy show the Kurdish potential when released from government oppression. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, religion instead of ethnicity is the main factor in Kurds' pariah status. The best hope for the Kurds is in Turkey where they share a big portion of blame for their historical treatment in the said country.


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