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Tribal Movements and Political Realities Problems of Conceptualisation

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Sengupta, Nirmal
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/3726
Sector: Social Organization
Region: Middle East & South Asia
Subject(s): culture
governance and politics
indigenous institutions
Abstract: "Till late eighteenth century travel accounts like that of Bernier (1620-1688) were the only source of European understanding of the Indians. With the beginning of the colonial administration the need to collect detailed knowledge about the people of India and their social systems became imperative. Along with the inquiries into revenue systems from late eighteenth century, ethnographic inquiries too had begun. In 1807 the Court of Directors of the East India Company made a formal decision that such knowledge would be 'of great use in the future administration of the country' (Vidyarthi, 1968, ii). To this effect Francis Buchanan was appointed by the government to inquire into the conditions of people in India. Although his writings were not so well known in Europe, those of other administrators were. Based on such scanty knowledge from India and elsewhere the first grand theories like those of Maine (1822-88). Morgan (1818-81), Tylor (1832- 1917) were developed, just as were the writings of Marx on precapitalist systems."

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