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The Anthropologist and the Native

The Anthropologist and the Native

H. L. Seneviratne


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‘The Anthropologist and the Native’ is a collection of twenty essays by internationally known scholars of different persuasions, honouring the distinguished anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere. The essays are arranged in six sections covering a range of topics that reflect Obeyesekere’s wide interests, making it a truly multidisciplinary volume. The areas covered include the Indian tradition and its representation, textual elucidation, renunciation, and the transformaion of Buddhism.

‘The Anthropologist and the Native’ is a collection of twenty essays by internationally known scholars of different persuasions, honouring the distinguished anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere, Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Obeyesekere’s writings include ‘Land Tenure in Village Ceylon’,  ‘Medusa’s Hair’, ‘The Cult of the Goddess Pattini’, ‘Work of Culture’, ‘The Apotheosis of Captain Cook’, ‘Imagining Karma’, ‘Cannibal Talk’, (with Richard Gombrich) ‘Buddhism Transformed’, and the forthcoming ‘The Awakened Ones’. Professor Obeyesekere’s contribution to South Asian studies and to anthropology is vast, and the rich variety of topics and approaches that marks this volume reflects his wide-ranging interests, constituting an apt tribute to his voluminous and inspiring work.

The authors featured in this collection are internationally known scholars from a variety of disciplines, including literary and textual studies, Indology, religion, history, social theory, art and anthropology. Reflecting Obeyesekere’s wide interests, the volume is arranged into six sections dealing with the Indian tradition and its representation; caste, kinship, land and community; renunciation and power; Buddhism transformed; the enigma of the text; and lastly a section entitled ‘The Anthropologist and the Native’, a discussion of aspects of anthropological fieldwork that evokes Obeyesekere’s extensive and intensive work dealing with his own society of Sri Lanka.

H. L. Seneviratne is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Half Title Page 1
Series Page 2
Full Title Page 3
Copyright Page 4
Frontispiece 5
Contents 7
Editor's Note 11
Section I: The Indian Tradition and its Representation 17
1. Paratha Mitter, Language and Race in Colonial Representations of Indian Society and Culture 19
2. John Nemec, When the ‘Parampara’ Breaks: On Gurus and Students in the Mahabharata 35
3. Patrick Olivelle, The Living and the Dead: Ideology and Social Dynamics of Ancestral Commemoration in India 65
4. David Shulman, On Singularity: What Sanskrit Poeticians Believe to be Real 75
Section II: Caste, Kinship, Land and Community 101
5. Lawrence A. Babb, Recasting a Caste: The Case of the Dadhic Brahmans 103
6. James Brow, Reconstituting Village Communities: Sir William Gregory’s Efforts to Renovate Village Agriculture in Ceylon’s North Central Province 125
7. Dennis B. McGilvray, Dowry in Batticaloa: The Historical Transformation of a Matrilineal Property System 137
Section III. Renunciation and Power 161
8. Arjun Appadurai, The Morality of Refusal 163
9. H. L. Seneviratne, Revolt in the Temple: Politics of a Paintings Project in Sri Lanka 179
10. Peter Van der Veer, Pain and Power: Reflections on Ascetic Agency 203
Section IV: Buddhism Transformed 219
11. Anne M. Blackburn, ‘Buddhist Revival’ and the ‘Work of Culture’ in 19th-century Lanka 221
12. Steven Kemper, Dharmapala’s Buddhisms 247
13. Donald K. Swearer, Religion and Globalization from the Historical Perspective of Thai Buddhism 273
Section V: The Enigma of the Text 291
14. Wendy Doniger, The Mythology of the ‘Kamasutra’ 293
15. Malalgoda Kitsiri Malalgoda, ‘Mandarampura Puvata’: An Apocryphal Buddhist Chronicle 317
16. Romila Thapar, Variants as Historical Statements: The ‘Rama-Katha’ in Early India 349
Section VI: The Anthropologist and the Native 395
17. Arjun Guneratne, Plain Tales from the Field: Reflections on Fieldwork in Three Culturestled 397
18. Abdelmajid Hannoum, The (Re)Turn of the Native: Ethnography, Anthropology, and Nativism 423
19. R. L. Stirrat and Dinah Rajak, Romance of the Field 445
20. Mark Whitaker, Human Rights and ‘Practical Rationality’ among Sri Lankan Tamils and Americans 471
List of Contributors 487