The panel seeks to deliberate on the diverse experiences of the journey so far pertaining to teaching, research and outreach of anthropology in colonial and post-colonial India. The roots of anthropological research can be traced back to 1784 when the Asiatic Society of Bengal started with comparative study of customs and traditions of the Orient. After a century the Anthropological Society of Bombay was founded in 1886 bringing out a disciplinary focus around the research on customary practices of ancient Indian races and cultures.
Teaching anthropology began in the University of Calcutta in the early parts of 1920s; and the first Indian journal of anthropology was published from the Man in India office at Ranchi founded by the doyen of Indian Anthropology , Rai Bahadur Sarat Chandra Roy. Since then, anthropology in India has never looked back and flourished in different universities and research institutions. Establishment of Anthropological Survey of India in 1945 accentuated the nation’s intellectual search for diversities in human existence in different parts of India. The builders of modern India have sought to apply anthropological knowledge in census operation, understanding problems of indigenous communities and preservation of cultural heritage through museums and beyond.
Universities in India adopted different course curriculum with differential focus on one or the other sub fields ignoring the rest. The training of ethnographic method imparted by different institutions also varied considerably in terms of its pedagogy, memory and practice.
Taking cognisance of these developmental sojourn, the panel seeks to examine the tension that exist in the discipline’s historical trajectories and contemporary practices. It attempts to unravel the interface between the theoretical underpinnings in universities, research institutes and non -government organizations on one hand and the application of disciplinary insights in public policy and development practice on the other.