Anthropological Generations: A Post-Independence Ethnography of Academic Anthropology and Sociology in India

Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan

Colloquium, The School for Advanced Research, 660 Garcia Street, Santa Fe

Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free

Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi, 2016 Summer ScholarHoda Bandeh-Ahmadi, 2016 Summer ScholarPhoto courtesy of Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi.Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi, 2016 Summer ScholarPhoto courtesy of Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi.

Ms. Bandeh-Ahmadi’s talk explores the disciplinary and sub-disciplinary boundaries that emerged within and around the University of Delhi (DU) anthropology department in the decades after India’s independence in 1947. It begins with a discussion of anthropologist PC Biswas’ work and how it helped shape those boundaries. Biswas, the first and longtime head of the DU anthropology department, was a Ph.D. advisee of the Nazi eugenicist Eugen Fischer in 1930’s Berlin and advocated for bringing eugenics policies to India. The presentation then links this discussion to stories from successive generations of DU anthropologists and the ways they have depicted disciplinary boundaries in institutional and practical contexts, including examples of boundary-crossing scholars. Based on these multi-generational, historical, and ethnographic perspectives, Bandeh-Ahmadi argues that alongside more commonly emphasized factors, such as sociology’s links to post-independence state-sponsored development work or anthropology’s stigmatized association with colonial race science, ideas about intellectual generational relations have played an important role in the creation, maintenance, blurring, and navigation of disciplinary boundaries.

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