Autonomy: Life Cycle, Gender, and Status among Himalayan Pastoralists

Autonomy: Life Cycle, Gender, and Status among Himalayan Pastoralists

Autonomy: Life Cycle, Gender, and Status among Himalayan Pastoralists

Autonomy: Life Cycle, Gender, and Status among Himalayan Pastoralists

Synopsis

This is the first study to examine the individual-dividual debate empirically from the - emic - perspective of decision making, observed over a 2-year period among the Bakkarwal, Himalayan Muslim pastoralists.

Excerpt

The question of individuality in non-European societies, and especially in those of South Asia is a much debated one. As part of this general discussion, many studies have appeared in recent years on South Asian concepts of "self" and person". Almost all of these have, however, concentrated on ideologies, the question of practice being largely neglected. Using data collected in more than two years of field research among the Bakkarwal, Muslim nomadic pastoralists in Jammu and Kashmir (Fig. I.1), this book attempts to discuss the interplay between cultural ideals and context-specific social practice. I am fairly confident of not wrongly inventing the ubiquitous "other" when asserting that in Bakkarwal society the existence of individuals is recognised in both theory and practice, and that a certain demonstration of individuality -- defined as the assertion of difference and even uniqueness on the part of one being in a given context -- is appreciated, and is justified by the context-specific manipulation of ideology. I hasten to add that a clear distinction is made in this society, and correctly I believe, between individuality and individualism. Obeyesekere (1990b: 245-6) rightly points out that in much anthropological writing (cf. also Bhargava 1992) there has been

A confusion of individualism with individuality/individual..."individualism" as a socioeconomic and historical condition can easily be confused with "individual", that is, with an individual's sense of himself as a separate being.

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