Louis Dumont and Hierarchical Opposition

Louis Dumont and Hierarchical Opposition

Louis Dumont and Hierarchical Opposition

Louis Dumont and Hierarchical Opposition

Synopsis

The work of Louis Dumont, who died in 1998, on India and modern individualism represented certain theoretical advances on the earlier structuralism of Claude Levi-Strauss. One such advance is Dumont's idea of hierarchical opposition, which he proposed as a truer representation of indigenous ideologies than Levi-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 Levi-Strauss alone."

Excerpt

The genesis of this book lies many years back. In 1983, a conference was held in Oxford to discuss the ethnographic usefulness of Dumont’s ideas of encompassment, value and hierarchical opposition. Although I did not take a direct part in the conference myself, a quirk of fate led me to act as both publisher and co-editor, in a very junior capacity, of the conference proceedings (see Barnes et al. 1985). This experience stimulated me to delve further into the matters then raised, and, as time allowed over the next few years, I began reading around the topic as widely as possible. This led to me writing extensively on it in the late 1980s and early 1990s while at the Free University of Berlin, where I also lectured on it on occasion.

As a result, a history began to emerge of the genesis of Dumont’s ideas, especially in so far as they represented a reaction to theNeedham and more especially by Dumont and his some of followers and fellow travellers. It is this latter part, further revised at intervals in an even busier period of my life from the mid-1990s, that forms the present work.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.