What is ‘Indian’ Anthropology?

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

NK Vaid, Academic Nomad AC – 177B, Shalimar Bagh

Delhi – 110088

Ph.: 91-9311337737

E-mail: nareshkrvaid@gmail.com


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Despite being a serious student of Anthropology for almost 50 years, the question makes me uneasy. It is easy to explain to the novice or beginner; but how to convince someone who has read and practised Anthropology?

I must admit that I have not been able to pinpoint what Anthropology is not. That could have made my job easy. Here I start with some historical facts.

  1. When Aristotle defined man as a featherless biped walker did he know he was defining the limits of Anthropology?

  2. In Class 9th or 10th, I had read a poem starting with the couplet: Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of humankind is human. Doesn’t Alexander Pope, the poet, sound an Anthropologist?

  3. Again, the same year, we had a poem by Tennyson on Crimean War, The Charge of the Light Brigade, which most of us must have read; I remember a few lines:

Canons to right of them

Cannons to left of them

Cannons in front of them