• Document: INDIAN ANTHROPOLOGY HISTORY OF ANTHROPOLOGY IN INDIA. Dr. Abhik Ghosh Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology Panjab University, Chandigarh
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INDIAN ANTHROPOLOGY HISTORY OF ANTHROPOLOGY IN INDIA Dr. Abhik Ghosh Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology Panjab University, Chandigarh CONTENTS Introduction: The Growth of Indian Anthropology Arthur Llewellyn Basham Christoph Von-Fuhrer Haimendorf Verrier Elwin Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Roy Biraja Shankar Guha Dewan Bahadur L. K. Ananthakrishna Iyer Govind Sadashiv Ghurye Nirmal Kumar Bose Dhirendra Nath Majumdar Iravati Karve Hasmukh Dhirajlal Sankalia Dharani P. Sen Mysore Narasimhachar Srinivas Shyama Charan Dube Surajit Chandra Sinha Prabodh Kumar Bhowmick K. S. Mathur Lalita Prasad Vidyarthi Triloki Nath Madan Shiv Raj Kumar Chopra Andre Beteille Gopala Sarana Conclusions Suggested Readings SIGNIFICANT KEYWORDS: Ethnology, History of Indian Anthropology, Anthropological History, Colonial Beginnings INTRODUCTION: THE GROWTH OF INDIAN ANTHROPOLOGY Manu’s Dharmashastra (2nd-3rd century BC) comprehensively studied Indian society of that period, based more on the morals and norms of social and economic life. Kautilya’s Arthashastra (324-296 BC) was a treatise on politics, statecraft and economics but also described the functioning of Indian society in detail. Megasthenes was the Greek ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya from 324 BC to 300 BC. He also wrote a book on the structure and customs of Indian society. Al Biruni’s accounts of India are famous. He was a 1 Persian scholar who visited India and wrote a book about it in 1030 AD. Al Biruni wrote of Indian social and cultural life, with sections on religion, sciences, customs and manners of the Hindus. In the 17th century Bernier came from France to India and wrote a book on the life and times of the Mughal emperors Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, their life and times. Anthropology began as a colonial handmaiden is a phrase that lies deep in the murky heart of the subject. However, it is true that in the initial stages the British administrators needed to know more about those that they ruled and thus started creating detailed analyses of their culture and society in order to understand how best to rule over them. This period ensured that anthropologists from England came to India and collected data on Indian populations and prepared monographs on them. This period is at the second half of the nineteenth century, when a number of monographs on tribal and other communities were being written by the British administrators and anthropologists. Along with these, there appeared on the scene a small number of Indian anthropologists who were being trained by the British masters to assist them in their anthropological work. Anthropology happened to be taught at Haileybury College to train British Civil servants going off to India under the East India Company. By 1807, the Company had realized the importance of anthropological knowledge. The Governor-General had appointed Dr. Francis Buchanan to collect information on the life and culture of the people of Bengal. At this time very little was known about the communities that resided in India and thus descriptive work was very much required that filled in the lacunae. In Victorian England, at that time, forms of classical evolutionism and diffusionism were very much in vogue and thus many of the anthropologists followed, consciously or sub-consciously, the theoretical regimes under which they existed. These theoretical ideas supported the spread of British rule and agreed with the subjugation of the natives. A political economy of support thus existed between the subject’s non-stated aims and its activities. By the beginning of the twentieth century, new Indian anthropologists came into the scene voluntarily due to the nature of their work, who wished not only to be educated about anthropology but also spearheaded the task of setting up Anthropology Departments in various Universities. Once large numbers of students came into the scene, the British hegemony over the subject weakened. As we shall see from the lives of the famous Indian anthropologists, without overtly falling out with the British at any point, they actually often disagreed with them openly on many important issues. However, British ideas kept emerging in Indian Anthropology over the years and never really and truly died out. One of the first things that happened in Anthropology in India was the setting up of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1774 by Sir William Jones. Under this organization, a number of anthropological works were conducted and many were printed in the journal of the Society. It is said by many that such work did not constitute an anthropology since they were written by British administrators and missionaries rather than ‘true’ anthropologists. However, many were well trained and their works are still studied, albeit as matters of historical interest, in Indian universities. They included famous names like L. S. O’Malley, E. Thurston, Ed

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