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Methodology & History in Anthropology
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Louis Dumont and Hierarchical Opposition
264 pages, 3 figures, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-57181-578-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (March 2003)
ISBN 978-1-84545-647-4 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (March 2009)
eISBN 978-0-85745-552-9 eBook
The work of Louis Dumont, who died in 1998, on India and modern individualism represented certain theoretical advances on the earlier structuralism of Claude Lévi-Strauss. One such advance is Dumont's idea of hierarchical opposition, which he proposed as a truer representation of indigenous ideologies than Lévi-Strauss's binary opposition. In this book the author argues that, although structuralism is often thought to have gone out of fashion, Dumont's greater concern with praxis and agency makes his own version of structuralism more contemporary. The work of his followers and fellow travelers, as well as his own, indicates that hierarchical opposition is capable of taking structuralism in new and more realistic directions, reminding us that it has never been the preserve of Lévi-Strauss alone.
Robert Parkin is a social anthropologist who took his doctorate at the University of Oxford in 1984 for a thesis on kinship in South and Southeast Asia. His main theoretical interests are in kinship, religion and identity, and he has conducted research and field enquiries in Orissa (India), Poland, Italy and Brussels.