Essay on Marxian Anthropology

Commenting on the trend of social anthropology in India, T.N. Madan, though a functionalist himself, has rightly commented that the indigenous tribals have largely been neglected to be studied from the non-functional and historical perspective. Madan observes in his latest book Pathways (Oxford, 1994):

Indian sociologists have been the products of western universities or their outposts in India and have remained rootless, being strangers equally to the Indian and the western philosophical traditions.

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The need for a synthesis of the philosophical presuppositions of ‘social science’ has been voiced by some scholars, but no significant ad­vances have been made mainly because the questions have not been posed properly: in fact, it is not easy to do so.

There is one more important approach to social anthropology which is neo-functional, structural and Marxian.

There are social an­thropologists belonging to Europe and the US who have approached the subject from the traditional path of functionalism. They included Maurice Godlier (1971), H.K. Schneider (1970), M. Sahlins (1973), Eliott Skinner (1970) and a few others.

These scholars have developed a new methodology which became popular in Europe, and particu­larly in France. It would not be erroneous to say that the new variant of social anthropology which has come to light is neo-functional and structural. This variant is influenced by French structuralism.