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

Peter Gottschalk

in Religion, Science, and Empire

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780195393019
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979264 | DOI:
A Raja, a Ghost, and a Tribe studies in folklore, ethnology, and religion

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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

Chapter.  20552 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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