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A Companion to the Anthropology of India

ISBN: 978-1-4051-9892-9
568 pages
February 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to the Anthropology of India (1405198923) cover image
A Companion to the Anthropology of India offers a broad overview of the rapidly evolving scholarship on Indian society from the earliest area studies to views of India’s globalization in the twenty-first century.
  • Provides readers with an important new introduction to the anthropology of India
  • Explores the larger global issues that have transformed India since the end of colonization, including demographic, economic, social, cultural, political, and religious issues
  • Contributions by leading experts present up-to-date, comprehensive coverage of key topics such as population and life expectancy, civil society, social-moral relationships, caste and communalism, youth and consumerism, the new urban middle class, environment and health, tourism, public and religious cultures, politics and law
  • Represents an authoritative guide for professional social and cultural anthropologists, and South Asian specialists, and an accessible reference work for students engaged in the analysis of India’s modern transformation
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Notes on Contributors.


Introduction (Isabelle Clark-Decès).

Part I: Caste and Class in Liberal India.

1. Demography for Anthropologists: Populations, Castes and Classes (Christophe Guilmoto).

2. Caste, Class and Untouchability (Robert Deliege).

3. Great Expectations: Youth in Contemporary India (Craig Jeffrey).

4. The Modern Transformation of an Old Elite: The Case of the Tamil Brahmans (Christopher J. Fuller).

5. Caste and Collective Memory in South India (Zoe E. Headley).

Part II: Cities, Cosmopolitan Styles and Urban Critics.

6. "How to Sit, How to Stand": Bodily Practice and the New Urban Middle Class (Meredith Lindsay McGuire). 

7. Global Dancing in Kolkata (Pallabi Chakravorty).

8. Yoga, Modernity and the Middle-Class: Locating the Body in a World of Desire (Joseph S. Alter).

9. Tourism in India: The Moral Economy of Gender in Banaras (Jenny Huberman).

10. Crafts, Artisans and the Nation-State in Delhi (Mira Mohsini).

11. Crowds, Congestion, Conviviality: The Enduring Life of the Old City (Ajay Gandhi).

Part III: Cultures and Religions in the Making.

12. Optic-Clash: Modes of Visuality in India (Shaila Bhatti & Christopher Pinney).

13. Hindu-Muslim Relations and the ‘War on Terror’ (Philippa Williams).

14. Religious Synthesis at a Muslim Shrine (Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi).

15. Christianity: Culture, Identity, and Agency (Mathew N. Schmalz).

Part IV: Communalism, Nationalism and Terrorism.

16. The Politics of Communalism and Caste (Ornit Shani).

17. Violence, Aggression, and Militancy: Re-Examining Gender, and Non-Liberal Politics (Tarini Bedi). 

18. India Burning: The Maoist Revolution (Alpa Shah).

Part V: Law, Governance and Civil Society.

19. Courts of Law and Legal Practice (Daniela Berti).

20. Encounters Killings: The Routinization of State Violence (Beatrice Jauregui).

21. Civil Society and Politics: An Anthropological Perspective (John Harriss).

22. Discourses of Citizenship and Criminality in Clean, Green Delhi (Yaffa Truelove and Emma Mawdsley).

23. Toward an Anthropology of Water in Mumbai’s Settlements (Nikhil Anand).

Part VI: From Global India to the Ethnography of Change.

24. Transnational India: Diaspora and Migration in the Anthropology of South Asia (Leo Coleman).

25. India Responds to the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: Unintended Consequences of Global Health Initiatives (Cecilia Van Hollen).  

26. Cultures of the Psyche, Politics of Illness (Sarah Pinto).

27. Ways of Aging (Sarah Lamb).

28. The Decline of Dravidian Kinship in Local Perspectives (Isabelle Clark-Decès).

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Isabelle Clark-Decès is Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Program in South Asian Studies at Princeton University. Her books include The Encounter Never Ends:Return to the Field of Tamil Rituals (2007).
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"This volume provides a useful framework for and discussion of the complexity and range of recently published research on the anthropologies of the Indian subcontinent in the era of globalization . . . Summing up: Essential. All libraries supporting graduate and undergraduate programs in anthropology, sociology, and history." (Choice, 1July 2011)

"This marvelous exploration of the ‘new' India is also a triumphant vindication of the old anthropological virtues of closely attending to the particularity of other people's lives."
Jonathan Spencer, Professor of the Anthropology of South Asia, University of Edinburgh


"This collection cuts loose from earlier ethnographic and theoretical interests to focus on India seen through the theoretical lens of globalization."
Mattison Mines, University of California Santa Barbara


"This is an excellent, highly readable, sample of current work on the social anthropology of India, a "must" for anyone interested in developments in Indian society today."
Peter van der Veer, Director Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen


"This exciting volume showcases the work of an array of established and younger scholars who are thinking about the astonishing changes happening in contemporary India. This book will be an invaluable guide to the sociological and anthropological rethinking of Indian society and culture."
Akhil Gupta, UCLA

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