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Native Noses and Nationalist Zoos

The beginning of the study of anthropology in the 19th century coincided with the need of the colonial authorities to 'understand' and assert themselves over their native subjects. New fields such as statistics came to be used to categorise and define subjects who were then placed in relation to each other in a fixed hierarchy. As this article argues, the tenor of the dominant anthropological discourse on the tribal showed only a marginal shift with the emergence of nationalism. In the early post-independent years, however, the question, that still continues to this day, of 'what to do with the tribal' was debated strongly between those (Ghurye and others) who advocated their 'assimilation' and the other side (chiefly Verrier Elwin) who argued for special protected spaces for the tribals.

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