Concepts of Person Kinship,Caste, and Marriage in India -Edited by Akos Ostor, Lina Fruzzetti and Steve Barnett

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THE CHAPTERS of this volume represent the final version of papers discussed at a conference on new approaches to South
Asian caste, kinship, and marriage held at Harvard University, December 10-13, 1976. Our aim was to advance the problem of comparison in anthropological research by exploring, with scholars expert in various subregions of South Asia, the extent to which new models of caste, mar-
riage, and kinship, based on extended analyses of indigenous categories,
articulate into regional South Asian models of the construct of the per-
son. The deliberations provided the first comprehensive review of new
developments in symbolic, cultural, and structural anthropology applied
to that area rich in history and social diversity. The conference was small
and well focused. The debates, discussions, and papers that emerged yield a volume that synthesizes regional studies into new approaches to South
Asian kinship and caste.The discussions allowed scholars an opportunity to work toward elaborating the underlying common themes. A number of anthropologists have been working independently along similar lines for the past few years. The problem of the unity of South Asian culture can be ap-
proached through the analysis of the anthropologist’s apperception of
indigenous symbolic forms, rather than through abstract domains of analysis posited before any investigation. These forms share surprising similarities that illuminate what has been described in the literature as regional differences.
The need for such a conference became apparent to us in the course of
completing a monograph consisting of several papers on Bengali and
Tamil kinship and caste. It occurred to us that several scholars had been
working in this area of studies for some time, using structural, symbolic,and cultural approaches to the same set of problems.’ We were struck by the common concern for combining regional and all-India models kinship and caste. These scholars—some established figures in the field others younger but building on their senior colleagues’ work-had not been in sustained contact with each other. The papers and discussions
served to provide a general discourse on several regions of South Asia as a step toward formulating both a comparative theory and an epistemology of social anthropology.Papers were contributed by a number of scholars. Sylvia Vatuk has
written extensively and critically on the problems of north Indian kinship. T. N. Madan has written on Kashmiri kinship and family and participated in the controversy surrounding the issue of marriage relations.Anthony Carter has contributed to the debates about terminology and marriage rules. Ravindra Khare has published numerous papers on the problematic aspects of hierarchy, affinity, and household relations. Pauline Kolenda has written many studies of family and caste in south India.Ralph Nicholas is the coauthor of the controversial Kinship in Bengali Culture.

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