1st Edition

Contours of South Asian Social Anthropology Connecting India and Nepal

By Swatahsiddha Sarkar Copyright 2022
    152 Pages
    by Routledge India

    152 Pages
    by Routledge India

    This book presents a conceptual and methodological framework to understand South Asia by engaging with the practices of sociology and social anthropology in India and Nepal. It provides a new imagination of South Asia by connecting historical, political, religious and cultural divides of the region. Drawing from the experiences of Indian and Nepali social anthropology, the book discusses the presence of Nepal studies in Indian social anthropology and vice versa. It highlights Nepal or South Asia as a subject for social anthropological research and stresses on pluriversal knowledge production through regional scholarship, dialogic social anthropology, South Asian episteme, post-Western social anthropology and the decolonisation of disciplines. In exploring the themes and problems of doing social anthropology in Nepal by Indian scholars, the book assesses the scope of developing the South Asian social anthropological worldview. It explains why social anthropological and sociological inquiry in India has failed to surpass its focus beyond the territorial limits of the nation state. The book examines the issues of methodological nationalism and social anthropological research tradition in South Asia. By using the Saidian framework of travelling theory and Bhambra’s idea of connected sociologies, it shows how social anthropology can develop disciplinary crossroads within South Asia.

    This book will be of interest to students, teachers and researchers of South Asian studies, anthropology, sociology, social anthropology, South Asian sociology, cultural anthropology, social psychology, area studies, cultural studies, Nepal studies and Global South studies.

    Chapter 1. Introduction

    Chapter 2. Why South Asian Social Anthropology: Epistemological Concerns

    Chapter 3. Locating Nepal/India in Indian/Nepali Social Anthropology

    Chapter 4. ‘Other Culture’ Studies in Indian Anthropology

    Chapter 5. Methodological Nationalism and Social Anthropological/Sociological Tradition in South Asia

    Chapter 6. Do Ideas Really Travel? Connecting Social Anthropology between India and Nepal

    Chapter 7. Coda



    Swatahsiddha Sarkar is Professor and Director (2019–2021) of the Centre for Himalayan Studies, University of North Bengal, Darjeeling, India. He has been engaged in Nepal studies in various capacities and was the recipient of Scholars Exchange Grants (2016–2017) under the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme. Besides publishing Gorkhaland Movement: Ethnic Conflict and State Response (2013) and the co-edited volume Ethnicity in India: Issues in Community, Culture and Conflict (2013), he is engaged in research and teaching and has published widely.

    Contours of South Asian Social Anthropology aims to invent conceptual and methodological frameworks to study South Asian Social Anthropology and Sociology (SAS) and views this attempt as academic decolonization and the construction of “epistemic South Asia” as a framework to study South Asian SAS. This book may contribute to shape South Asian SAS as a distinct branch of the disciplines and encourage scholars to build up cooperation and work in collaboration in order to advance South Asian SAS. Proposing a new perspective in studying South Asian SAS, the author aims to free the disciplines from the domination of western conceptual and methodological frameworks. The book will be of interest to scholars working on national SAS in the nations in South Asia and also to students and teachers at graduate and postgraduate levels.’

    Laxman Ghimire, Independent researcher; former faculty member, Central Department of Linguistics, Tribhuvan University, Nepal; and former independent researcher, UNESCO, Bangkok


    ‘Can there be a Nepali, Pakistani, Indian or South Asian Sociology and social science? Should Sociology and social science serve nation building and legitimize indigeneity? Inasmuch as knowledge is a social and historical product, is not “Western” Sociology today hiding its provincialism and masquerading itself as “universal” Sociology? Or does a better future for Sociology and social science lie in a search for a much more plural, layered and woven together fabric made up of “local” and large scale and long run social relations and structures? Swatahsiddha Sarkar extends an invitation to social scientists to revisit and dive deeper into these consequential issues and to come up with a better answer than is now available.’

    Chaitanya Mishra, Professor of Sociology, MPhil/PhD Program, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal


    ‘This work makes a contribution to the long-standing critique of Eurocentric sociology and the debates around the possibility of a uniquely South Asian discipline. Swatahsiddha Sarkar engages with these debates from the vantage point of sociology in Nepal. Apart from detailing the various initiatives taken by academic institutions in India to engage in cross country research he also describes the experiences of Nepali scholars as students of the subject in Indian universities and as teachers and researchers in universities in Nepal. While there are several scholars who have engaged with the project of building regional traditions in sociology and chronicling the histories of such traditions particularly in India the significance of Sarkar’s study lies in its wealth of empirical detail. I am sure the book will find a place in university curricula in South Asia.’

    Roma Chatterji, former Professor of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, India


    ‘This important book puts South Asia on the map of world sociology and anthropology, not just as a geographical site but an entity with a common episteme and common concerns that have something unique to say to the disciplines. It prods us to think of the academic practices (conferences, texts) through how we bring (or don’t bring) spaces like South Asia into being, and how South Asia has for too long been the victim of a geopolitical imaginary to the exclusion of other facets like culture, ecology and habitation. Tragically, we learn about our neighbours only through the West. Although the book is focused on India and Nepal, its call for a revitalized and reimagined sociology and anthropology of South Asia must become a rallying point for South Asian academics across the region.’ 

    Nandini Sundar, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Delhi, India