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Territory, Soil and Society in South Asia

Daniela Berti (Editor) Gilles Tarabout (Editor)
Synopsis This volume tackles a widespread stereotype in academic studies, according to which pre-colonial India consisted of territorial units with ill-defined, fuzzy boundaries, and where territory had, and still has, little value as a cognitive category. In aiming to reconsider this perspective, the book follows two converging lines of enquiry. One explores the conceptions that stress the mutual determination of places and people, and the entrenchment of their identity in the soil. The other analyses historically and anthropologically the changing nature of the notion of territory, understood in its proper sense of a jurisdiction: an area where rights and power are exercised. The investigation starts from the devaluation of religious territory in Vedic ritual texts, checks later developments of divine territories in relation to temples' details various types of 'traditional' jurisdictions, and ends up with an analysis of recent ethnicization of the Nation as shown in Hindutva produced videos. The book combines a diversity of sources (ethnographical, archival, textual and inscriptions), used by an international team of authors trained in different disciplines (Indology, history of religion, social anthropology). These approaches provide contrasting pictures of the plural conceptions and symbolic manipulations of territory in the Indian world from early times to the present day. The studies invite a comparison with other societies, based on the recognition of the historicity and plurality of territorial organizations that are at the core of human relationships.
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About the author

Gilles Tarabout

Gilles Tarabout, Ph.D. in social anthropology, has specialized in the study of Kerala’s society and popular religious practices. Apart from his own publications in the field, he has co-edited volumes bearing on various themes; Islam and Christianity in India, Religious Possession in South Asia, Conceptions of the Body in Hinduism. Currently senior fellow (CNRS) at the Centre for Indian and South Asian Studies, Paris, he is also in charge of the Indo-French Cooperation Programme in Social Sciences at the ‘Maison des Sciences de I’Homme’ (Paris).

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Bibliographic information

Title Territory, Soil and Society in South Asia
Format Softcover
Date published: 28.03.2009
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 8173047824
length 380p.