Haneefa, Muhammed. ‘Muslim Barbers of South Malabar and Covid‐19: Homogamy, Caste Occupation and Economic Hardship’. Anthropology Today 37, no. 1 (2021): 9–12.
Abstract: Systemic caste discrimination is palpable in various parts of India, even during the COVID‐19 pandemic. This article explores how having a particular caste occupation is devastating for a community who live in the South Malabar region of Kerala.
Decades of occupational homogamy and caste discrimination among Muslims in this region have inevitably pushed Muslim Barbers into extreme financial difficulty during this pandemic. A specific caste occupation and engagement of household members in a similar profession strengthen the ‘strong kinship ties’ within the community, and they miss out on the benefits of ‘weak ties’.
This article draws from a follow‐up visit during the COVID‐19 pandemic after three years of ethnographic research in the South Malabar region as part of PhD research between 2014 and 2017.
During this pandemic, the system of traditional caste occupation based on homogamous marriage and validated by religious scriptures has compounded severe economic hardship for the Barbers. Everyone is suffering, but the Barbers are among the hardest hit.