Interestingly enough, the hangover of the bruised reputation of social anthropology was witnessed in post-independence India also. In the decades of forties and fifties and afterwards, sociology became a popular discipline in universities and colleges, whereas the chair of social anthropology in a large number of universities was wanted.
Even today, the universities and colleges are quite eager to open up new departments of sociology but at the same time are quite hesitant to start departments of social anthropology. The colonial hatred persists. However, it must be said that social anthropology is rich in its skills to study the indigenous knowledge of the masses of people living in hills, forests and villages.
The argument is simple-if social anthropology has the guts to help the colonial regime to settle in India and consolidate its power; it also has the potential to carry the people to the road of progress and development. It is an academic tool, a weapon which leaves us to decide how to use it.
But it is difficult to win over the prejudices against social anthropology. There is enough evidence to support our argument. Some of our sociologists are basically, in terms of holding the university degree, social anthropologists. But, in their formal status of sociologists, they have contributed substantially to the knowledge of social anthropology.
Our sociological fund of knowledge owes much to social anthropology. The contributions of sociologists like M.N. Srinivas, S.C. Dube and G.S. Ghurye are basically anthropological in their content but are included in the field of sociology. As a matter of fact, in countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South Africa, it is difficult to separate social anthropology from sociology.
Simply, they are inseparable. Despite this understanding social anthropology would require several decades to establish itself in the popular framework of the intellectual society.
Ideologically, social anthropology is considered to be an active partner with the religiosity and capitalism dominating the society. The anthropological studies conducted in the southern part of Africa very convincingly show that after independence the clergymen and the businessmen had to flee with a copy of the Bible under the arm and a briefcase in hand.
The history of colonial and feudal regimes in the South African countries shows that social anthropology had a dirty relationship with imperialism, capitalism and religious conversion. It is with this historical background in view that we analyze the new horizons which social anthropology has opened up for the development of the indigenous people, weaker sections and rural people.
Now is the time when we should employ social anthropological potential for the new goals charted out by different developing countries? We believe that if the sociological knowledge and researches are properly utilized, the discipline itself would be enriched in theory, methods and data and would also help the society and state to attain new future.