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Reconceptualizing India Studies$
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Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780198082965

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198082965.001.0001

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Culture and the Cultural

Culture and the Cultural

Problems, Pitfalls, and a Proposal

(p.13) Chapter 1 Culture and the Cultural
Reconceptualizing India Studies

S.N. Balagangadhara

Oxford University Press

Today, it is almost sacrilegious to ‘Other the other’ while doing anthropology. Because the notion of culture itself has become suspect, apparently, one cannot even suggest that cultures different from one’s own are these ‘others’. This chapter begins by showing that most arguments that advocate jettisoning the concept of culture are cognitively inadmissible: none of these arguments establishes the need to reject the concept of culture or show its undesirability. Subsequently, it examines the suggestion to look at the adjectival uses of the word ‘cultural’. Here, an answer to the following question is formulated: what makes some difference, any difference, a cultural difference and not a social, biological or psychological difference? Instead of a wholesale rejection of the notion of culture, this chapter shows that it is possible to explore the nature of cultural difference in new ways provided we come up with interesting hypotheses about its nature.

Keywords:   Culture, cultural difference, the other, anthropology, the Other

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