South Asian Anthropology


South Asian Anthropology

This group is dedicated to all who are interested in South Asia.

Members: 138
Latest Activity: Jan 22

Discussion Forum

Recommended ethnographies of South Asia 5 Replies

Started by Laurahead. Last reply by Suneel Kumar May 9, 2013.

Syllabus and Reading List for Anthropology of South Asia 4 Replies

Started by Suneel Kumar. Last reply by Suneel Kumar Jun 30, 2012.

Cultural vilation in Central India 1 Reply

Started by Arnab Sen. Last reply by Piers Locke Mar 21, 2010.

Comment Wall

Comment by Michael Yorke on June 2, 2009 at 4:38am
As an introduction I have done years of research and filmmaking among adivasis, namely the Ho and the Raj Gonds and also with Juna Akhara sadhus and I have made lots of films on India for the BBC and Channel Four. Can I help in any way?
Comment by Chelsea L. Booth on June 2, 2009 at 2:16pm
Welcome to the group! Introductions sound like a great idea.

I'm finishing up my Phd this year and have done years of research in Darjeeling, Sikkim, and Nepal focusing on language shift and the construction of social difference.
Comment by Timm Lau on June 3, 2009 at 12:06am
Hi. I'm a recent PhD and my research is on the Tibetan diaspora in India. So my work is located in South Asia, but with a Central Asian diaspora there. I did fieldwork in a Tibetan settlement in Himachal Pradesh, as well as going along on itinerant sweater trade in Bikaner, Rajasthan. My dissertation describes how Tibetan diasporic identities are shaped by recurrent movements between refugee and local Indian contexts, encompassing both literal movement during itinerant trading and being moved by the aspirational representations of Hindi film. Analysing my fieldwork data, I realised that Indian "ways of doing things", e.g. economic schemas and practices, are actually sometimes key enabling features for the Tibetan diaspora in India. My initial post-PhD writing appears to be focusing on emotions, media and cultural change, as well as construction/maintenance of social boundaries. Amongst other things, I'm currently very interested in critically investigating the concept of diaspora, if I can get someone to hire me to do it.
Comment by mouli g marur on June 3, 2009 at 3:48pm
I am probably the most outsider in this 'anthro' group. With an undergrad in Physics and Masters in Fine Arts (design), professionally I am a design/creative director with experience as an editor in publishing, advertising and e-learning. As a migrant myself (studied and taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 18 years, and have been a creative consultant in middle east and india), issues concerning emigration and the fluid idea of 'home' occupy my thoughts. I am very interested in digitally documenting mythologies and legends of migrant populations through audio recordings, photography, drawings and video. I am particularly interested in culinary, performance and musical expressions of migrants. I am fascinated with the similarity in music of the European Romas (who trace their roots to Rajasthan) and their possible links to Narikuravaas or Kurivikkaaras of Tamil Nadu.
After 27 years as a commercial designer, my passion now is documentary filmmaking, and would love to travel and collaborate with ethnographers and anthropologists. I am well-versed in all the digital tools of the trade and will be glad to assist researchers with new technologies.
Comment by Nold Egenter on June 6, 2009 at 5:43am
I spent about 8 wintertimes in India with research in various regions (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa Madhya Pradesh). Main topic: permanent demarcations of village territory (Bastar region). Temporary demarcations of agricultural fields and temple grounds during holi-festivals: 100 villages of Maharasthra. The basic aim of the activity was to demonstrate the existence of traditional territorial demarcation systems consisting of signs constructed with fibrous materials and wooden poles in India's rural village cultures.

This type of phenomenon has a long history in Christian proselytism. Missionaries interpreted such sacred structures in traditional societies as 'fetish', 'idol' and the like attributing them to primitive religion.

In Comte's evolutionary scheme towards positivism the term 'fetishism' gained a definite position within sociology and anthropology in the first level of his primary theological stage: from fetishism to polytheism and to monotheism.

In Japan where I had been living for 10 years, I had studied this 'fetish'-topic extensively in the empirical framework of 'semantic architecture' on three levels a) in various formations all over the Japanese archipelago, b) one village in details, c) 100 villages in Shiga prefecture.

One of the main reasons was: during my work I had become aware that Western classification of this phenomenon was entirely wrong. Its primitve construction methods showed clearly that it must have been a tradition rooted in Neolithic times. As formation of a territorial demarcation system it evidently contributed essentially to the formation of sedentary life and agrarian production. As a cyclically reproduced sign system it functioned as archivation of the local hegemony of the village founderhouse and thus created an elementary and functionally plausible social hierarchy. Its categorically polar structure introduced an elementary aesthetic principle (harmony of opposites) which acted as a cognitive model for natural forms (e.g. analogy to tree: crown and trunk) as well as a philosophical model of formal generality in a heterogeneous field. And finally it formed an aesthetic model for all kinds of practical creations (e.g. straw culture of Japan). The religious element is clearly secondary or tertiary: the present representant of the founderhouse in the Japanese village often has a particular position. He is some sort of a local ruler, chief in legal aspects and main priest of the Shinto shrine. It has to be noted that priest in Japanese translates as "owner of the deity" (kannushi). It is fairly clear that the ontological values are secondary and based on the positive conditions created by the primary conditions mentioned above.

The studies done in India were not made with the same intensity as those produced in Japan. But in the Maharashtra study the existence of such traditions could be shown to be very densely spread in about 100 villages visited in the South Konkan Hills of the Maharashtra region. Below are some illustrated reports on research done in India:
--Maharashtra Holi Pole survey:
--Lakshmi-cult, agrarian festival near Jagdalpur
--Temporary Hindoo Temple at Kovalam beach (near Trivandrum)
--Sacred pillars of Hindu Tradition in some Temples of Singapore

These ethnographic research activities are in a wider framework of sources of "(topo-)semantic architecture" or what I call the "Life-tree/ Fetish/ Maypole-complex"
If it is assumed that Neolithic agrarian village cultures were relatively simple and homogeneous in their outfit regarding material culture, but had relatively complex territorial and spatio-organisational structures due to such toposemantic systems, we could question the early civilisations with their centralised theocracies in many ways as constructing their monumental and historistic powerful system of control, but covering up the real sources of their system. Can the value system erected by early civilisations now be understood in new ways? Essentially as the result of spatial extension of the Neolithic system of toposemantic control, horizontally as well as vertically?

And finally: The ultimate problem of anthropology is always - if this is understood in terms of a scientific attitude - to indicate transitions from natural to cultural conditions. Constructive behaviour and architecture as its formal result might have played a much more important role in this type of transition than it was thought conventionally.
Comment by Anjan Ghosh on June 12, 2009 at 12:41pm
Am an Indian anthropologist who live and work in Kolkata. My interests lie in informal channels of communication and social conflict, contestations over public space and the patterns of social inequality.
As I have just joined the group look forward to the discussions.
Comment by Ganesh Ghimire on July 16, 2009 at 12:35pm
Hi All,
I am an Anthropology graduate from Nepal. I have been involved in some research related to political parties and democratic socialism in south Asia. Meanwhile I am looking at definitions and historical aspect of democratic socialism and its preferences in developing countries. Are there any published literature in the field that would be helpful to me? I would appreciate any suggestions from you.

Comment by Nithya Sambasivan on July 18, 2009 at 6:33am
Hi everyone, I am a doctoral student at UC Irvine doing research on the role of technologies in socio-economic development. I just wrapped up a project where I did some research on women of urban slums in Bangalore. Looking fwd. to interacting with the group!
Comment by Prokop Istvanek on July 23, 2009 at 9:43am
Finishing preliminary phase of my Phd research of marginality on srilankan tea plantations and lookinng forward to get to the field.. Is there anybody who works in sri lanka or on plantations? ))
Comment by Dr Nasir Uddin on September 2, 2009 at 5:45pm
Am based in Chittagong, Bangladesh working in the field of anthropology. I intend to build academic and intellectual collaboration with people across the world because I believe in learining through human conduct. Within the anthropological scholarship and beyond, I have particular interest in Ethnicity in De-territorialized World, Formation of Ethnic Category, Politics of Marginality and Minority Issues, Subaltern Studies, Dialectics of Colonialism and Post-colonialism, Peace and Conflict Studies, Ethnography of South Asia, Regionalism and Area Studies, Contested Notions of Religious and Regional Terrorism, Dynamics of Fundamentalism and Secularism, Interface between Hills and Plains, Upland-lowland Relations in South-Asian Sub-continent particularly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Please visit my


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