Shifting Temperance Landscapes: Locating Caste and Gender within the Spatial Politics of Drink in the Madras Presidency

Sriraman, Tarangini. 2023. Shifting Temperance Landscapes: Locating Caste and Gender within the Spatial Politics of Drink in the Madras Presidency. Social History of Alcohol and Drugs, 37(1), pp. 125-156. ISSN 1930-8418 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article examines spatio-political formulations of drink in caste terms during the 1930s in the Madras Presidency (region) in colonial South India. It advances two arguments. The first argument is that the temperance agitation, driven by the regional wing of the dominant nationalist party organization, the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, relied on physical, legal, and social formulations of space expressed in caste terms. One such articulation entailed the likening of toddy to the menstrual blood of an Adi Dravida woman. The second, more critical argument is that the resignifying of stigmatizing meanings of alcohol within egalitarian and empowering temperance landscapes of Adi-Dravida political formations is deliberate. The article demonstrates the urgency of framing temperance vis-a-vis Dalit politics of public space in overarching terms. It also asks and answers the critical question of how Adi-Dravida and Tamil Nadu Congress political figures imagined each other and manifested in each other’s spatial sites of alcohol.

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© 2023 Alcohol and Drugs History Society.

This article was funded by Azim Premji university and Charles Wallace Research Grant.


caste, alcohol, spatial politics, Madras Presidency

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October 2022Accepted
24 March 2023Published

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16 Oct 2023 08:55

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16 Oct 2023 09:36

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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