ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Through a Glass, Darkly

Through a Glass, Darkly

mutual sectarianism, antagonism and opposition, it is developing by today into a fruitful dialogue, marked for instance by the recent important Marathi work of Raosaheb Kasbe, "Ambedkar ani Marx". For the fact is that what Khare describes as the ideology of the Untouchable is closer to what we know of as 'Marxism' than to 'Hinduism', INDIA has been a happy hunting ground for social scientists from the West for quite some time. For reasons which may not be all concerned with the demands of the discipline, social anthropology has in practice meant study of societies which according to some criteria are more backward than the societies to which the investigating scholars belong, even though the same scholars adamantly deny the validity of the concept of one society being more advanced or backward than another. So, social anthropologists of Europe and America go to India, Polynesia, Papua New Guinea, etc; following the line, Indian social anthropologists choose by preference tribal societies. If there are any scientific reasons for Western scholars not studying their own societies from a similar approach they are not known to this reviewer. There are of course many sociological studies of different aspects of Western societies like women's problems, family, sexual behaviour, etc. But can one think of any study like the one under review for a European small town society attempting to unravel connections that might be there between rituals in the local church, local occurrences of Christian festivals, the European theatre form and such continent- wise political phenomenon, like say, Euro- Communism? One cynical explanation for this systematic choice of geographically and culturally distant subjects might be the easy opportunity that it offers for escaping examination by competent critics. Thus, no other Western scholar has probably made an anthropological study of the society of Vishnupur. The total number of Western scholars who have studied any aspect of Bengali culture may not exceed a dozen in all. Even among them command over the Bengali lauguage may not be upto the needed standard, as may be inferred from the numerous linguistic mistakes one comes across in the book under review (about which more later). The same must be true of studies of other linguistic and ethnic groups in India as well as in the rest of Eric Wolfs "World without History''. This makes it possible for every other Western scholar to become an "authority" in his own small reserved domain.

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