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Debates in Colonial and Early Nationalist Anthropology of Castes and Tribes in India

by R Srivastsan, 30 September 2006

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Debates in Colonial and Early Nationalist Anthropology of Castes and Tribes
The beginning of the study of anthropology in the 19th century coincided with the need of the colonial authorities to ‘understand’ and assert themselves over their natives ubjects. New fields such as statistics came to be used to categorise and define subjects who were then placed in relation to each other in a fixed hierarchy. As this article argues, the tenor of the dominant anthropological discourse on the tribal showed only a marginal shift with the emergence of nationalism. In the early post-independent years, however, the question, that still continues to this day, of ‘what to do with the tribal’ was debated strongly between those (Ghurye and others) who advocated their ‘assimilation’ and the other side (chiefly Verrier Elwin) who argued for special protected spaces for the tribals.

Native Noses and Nationalist Zoos
by R Srivastsan
- The Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 40 No. 19 May 07 - May 13, 2005