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Religion, Science, and EmpireClassifying Hinduism and Islam in British India$
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Peter Gottschalk

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195393019

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393019.001.0001

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A Raja, a Ghost, and a Tribe studies in folklore, ethnology, and religion

A Raja, a Ghost, and a Tribe studies in folklore, ethnology, and religion

Chapter:
(p.225) 6 A Raja, a Ghost, and a Tribe studies in folklore, ethnology, and religion
Source:
Religion, Science, and Empire
Author(s):

Peter Gottschalk

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393019.003.0010

As two roots of the developing discipline of anthropology, folklore and ethnology represent divergent efforts to use narrative for the sake of comparison. British and Indian travellers and officials engaged in informal folkloric studies found particular interest in and diverse renditions of Chainpur's longstanding social memory involving an unjust local raja and the ghost of his slighted Brahman vizier. Such authors included Francis Buchanan, his assistant Ramajai, Chandrasekhara Banurji, Alexander Cunningham, and Khairat Ali. While some considered their collection imperative given their expectation of the immanent disappearance of such stories in light of progress, others viewed them as representative of an enduring national genius. Meanwhile, British depictions of tribals, Dravidians, and Aryans were rooted in efforts to construct a meta-narrative of racial distribution, linguistic variation, caste origination, and religious formation. Both folklore and ethnology drew upon genealogical and morphological forms of comparison as the anchors for their meta-narratives. The discipline of anthropology helped establish some classification systems of comparison that were less ethnocentric than those found in the folkloric and ethnological projects that contributed to its development.

Keywords:   ethnology, folklore, religion, Risley, Dravidian, Aryan, race, anthropology, social memory, Crooke

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