22 August, 2012

Periphery and Centre: Studies in Orissan History, Religion and Anthropology

Periphery and Centre: Studies in Orissan History, Religion and Anthropology

By- Georg Pfeffer (ed.)
Studies in Orissan Society, Culture and History Series 7

The second Orissa Research Project presents the eastern province as a multi-centred cultural
complex. In an interdisciplinary effort this historical study covers the so-called iron-age in western Orissa and questions the established foundation date of one of the major coastal temples. Conditions of early colonialism are exemplified by a report on a typical road construction, just as popular protest movements of that phase, as well as the ambivalent position of their leaders and the issue of conversions to Christianity are examined.

The critical Orissan politico-religious controversies over independence are presented by the visions of the Maharaja of Parlakimedi. Indological contributions indicate that the contemporary debate on ‘animal sacrifice’ has a long history. Just as the popular religious movements against Brahmanism, introduced here by two accounts of rather different peasant and tribal versions of the Orissan Mahima Dharma religion, are a contemporary manifestation of similar dissent in the past.

The empirical anthropological studies reflect the rather unique concepts of illness among the Rona, the category of the person, as created by the application of sacrificial food among the Gadaba, and the AghriƁ ideas on death. These three articles may lead to the first comprehensive monographs on these important communities of the tribal zone. The issue of a tribal status is ambiguous, since the principals themselves, as well as external observers, tend to join
questions of administrative advantages with status ascription in acephalous political systems and the implications of plough cultivation. Postcolonial ‘modernization’, as described in another article on a new power plant in the tribal area, looks at how it has completely excluded the indigenous people. Finally questions of anthropological method are raised in articles on Kondh social structure, on the Goddess in southern Orissa, and on the question of values in different social contexts.

Georg Pfeffer is Professor of Socio-Cultural Anthropology (Ethnologie) at the Free University of Berlin.

ISBN  81-7304-767-1    2007   378p.   Rs.395/ pounds 28.99

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