Anthropology as Satyagraha (Truth-force): Elwin in pre-independence India

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This article questions the articulation of national values through anthropological and ethnographic discourses circulating in central India during the 1930s-40s. The focus is on Verrier Elwin’s use of the Muria (Adivasi) institution of the ghotul (youth dormitory) to ascertain a creative dialogue between the emerging nation-state and tribal heritage. I argue that Elwin articulated a post-Gandhian approach in his interpretation of the ghotul, which may be re-considered both historically, in relation to Ananda Coomaraswamy’s concept of ‘high swadeshi’, and ideologically, in relation to the philosophy and praxis of Satyagraha. I address these representational shifts according to the analytical logic of satyagraha-as-dialogue, with a view to enhancing an understanding of the travails of inter-cultural outlooks in historical anthropology.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPathways of Creative Research
Subtitle of host publicationTowards a Festival of Dialogues
EditorsAnanta Kumar Giri
Place of PublicationNew Delhi
PublisherPrimus Books
ISBN (Print)978-93-84082-05-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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