Thomas Hylland Eriksen has given an appropriate place to gender issues in his book, Small Places, Large Issues (1995). His argument is that if there is a women’s movement all over the world, how social anthropology can close it eyes towards the male treatment given to a woman in tribal society.
If the modern societies conceptualize differences between men and women in terms of equality, why should we not look at the discrimination meted out to tribal women? Eriksen observes:
Malinowski, who has often been praised for his ethnographic details, is now said to have neglected important women’s institutions completely and exaggerated the contribution of men to the reproduction of Trobriand society. In many other classic studies too, social actors are more or less seen as equivalent to social men.
The British social anthropologists like H.H. Risley, W.H.R. Rivers, R.V. Russel and others have altogether overlooked the problems of tribal women.
In India too, those who are called as the founders of social anthropology, such as D.N. Majumdar, S.C. Roy, G.S. Ghurye and K.S. Singh, have either not looked at the issue of the discrimination of women by the men, or even if looked at, not in a proper perspective.
It is, therefore, certain that the gender issues in the Indian context, with reference to social anthropology, are overlooked.