Economic Mobility, Islamic Piety and Caste: Ashrafization in Pakistani Punjab

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.