Cloth $42.50 ISBN: 9780226310473 Published April 1999 World sales rights except India

Savaging the Civilized

Verrier Elwin, His Tribals, and India

Ramachandra Guha

Savaging the Civilized
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Ramachandra Guha

416 pages | 16 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1999
Cloth $42.50 ISBN: 9780226310473 Published April 1999 World sales rights except India
Verrier Elwin (1902-1964) was unquestionably the most colorful and influential non-official Englishman to live and work in twentieth-century India. A prolific writer, Elwin's ethnographic studies and popular works on India's tribal customs, art, myth and folklore continue to generate controversy.

Described by his contemporaries as a cross between Albert Schweitzer and Paul Gauguin, Elwin was a man of contradictions, at times taking on the role of evangelist, social worker, political activist, poet, government worker, and more. He rubbed elbows with the elite of both Britain and India, yet found himself equally at home among the impoverished and destitute. Intensely political, the Oxford-trained scholar tirelessly defended the rights of the indigenous and, despite the deep religious influences of St. Francis and Mahatma Gandhi on his early career, staunchly opposed Hindu and Christian puritans in the debate over the future of India's tribals. Although he was ordained as an Anglican priest, Elwin was married twice to tribal women and enthusiastically (and publicly) extolled the tribals' practice of free sex. Later, as prime minister Nehru's friend and advisor in independent India, his compelling defense of tribal hedonism made him at once hugely influential, extremely controversial, and the polemical focal point of heated discussions on tribal policy and economic development.

Savaging the Civilized is both biography and history, an exploration through Elwin's life of some of the great debates of the twentieth century: the future of development, cultural assimilation versus cultural difference, the political practice of postcolonial as opposed to colonial governments, and the moral practice of writers and intellectuals.

List of Illustrations
I. Evangelical Ghetto
II. Oxford Rebellion
III. Between Christ and the Congress
IV. Breaking Ranks
V. An Ashram of One's Own
VI. Defending the Aboriginal
VII. Going Gond
VIII. Anthropologist at Large
IX. Staying On
X. An Englishman in India
XI. A Sahib (Sometimes) in the Secretariat
XII. Nehru's Missionary
XIII. An Englishman for India
XIV. Outsider Within: The Worlds of Verrier Elwin
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