chapter  twelve
20 Pages

Official Hegemony and Contesting Pluralisms

WithShiv Visvanathan

Anthropology is in many ways the product of a dissenting and eccentric imagination, a subject perpetually quarreling with itself. This chapter looks at “world anthropology” and “the politics of center and periphery” through dissenting lenses. The intellectual debates over a sociology of India constitute one of the most fascinating archives on the possibility of a world anthropology, but the terms of the debate and its “official” history marginalize two other fascinating answers to the fundamental questions. A comparative sociology was also an intellectual and pragmatic challenge to colonialism, which had created an artificial barrier between “primitive” and advanced societies and a parallel split between social anthropology and sociology. The celebration of civil society and alternative science that marked the 1980s and 1990s slowly came unstuck with the emergence of globalization. The sociology of globalization in India has to rely on diasporic intellectuals such as Arjun Appadurai, whose studies of globalization have acquired a textbook imprimatur.