Friday, March 30, 2012


Ethnicity as a subject is of great interest in anthropology and the study of nationalism is growing in importance.The major study in the field of ethnicity is done by Norwegian anthropologist Fredrik Barth who did field work in many parts of Asia and the Pacific.He developed his ideas in the introduction to his edited book Ethnic Groups and Boundaries which inspired  many to look at ethnicity not as a given but as something people define for themselves and negotiate like political power.Different points of emphasis have arisen.For example in the study of the post Communist Eastern Europe some have emphasized continuity with the old political structures whereas others emphasize new found national identities and connections with pre-communist ways of life.

Nationalism does not always imply a nation state and is often equated with ethnic identity.Scottish nationalism has an element of Scottish ethnic identity.Palestinian nationalism is related to Palestinian ethnicity as well as to the desire for an independent state.

According to Alan Barnard three main perspectives of ethnicity and nationalism have emerged.
Primordialist perspectives view ethnicity and nationalism as rooted in real characteristics of people and nation created by factors like biology,geography and language.

Instrumentalist perspectives see ethnicity and nationalism as creations of a political elite to serve their own purposes.

Constructivist perspectives see ethnic and national identities as products of particular situations.Individuals construct identities which are meaningful to them and which they can manipulate.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Status of women in tribal society

The status of women in tribal societies naturally depends on their roles.While some consider that the status of women was high others are of opinion that women were not equal to men in status.Malinowski opined that judgement of status in a society can be made only by considering all mutual duties between men and women and safeguards provided to a sex against the domination of the other sex.Lowie thought that four factors  had bearing  on status.These include treatment given,legal status,opportunity for social participation and the character and the extent of work.

Ashrama system

The term Ashrama may be seen as halting place in one's life span at different intervals bringing major changes.The order in the Hindu view of Ashrama includes Brahmacharya Ashrama,Grihastha Ashrama,Vanaprastha and Sanyasa Ashrama.

In the Brahmacharya the boy is invested with sacred thread through the upanayana ceremony likes in Gurukul learning vedas and other religious texts.On attaining manhood the person returns home and is married so that he can perform religious rites to propitiate God perform shraddha ceremony to his ancestors and give incharity to the poor.

After completing this man enters Vanaprastha Ashrama by leaving home to live in a forest.He lives an austere life performing rituals and studying vedic texts.He develops compassion for all.He then enters the Sanyasa Ashrama and turns an ascetic and concentrates on the ultimate non empirical reality.He tries to attain liberation from worldly affairs.


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