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Pakistan

(3,505 words)

Author(s): Pfeffer, Georg
Partition and Recent History At the Partition of British India in 1947, the leaders of newly independent Pakistan designated their state as the home of South Asian Muslims. Accordingly, the drawing of its boundaries was an artificial process – that is, the outcome of controversial negotiations rather than given cultural divisions. It resulted in the forced migration of millions Muslims to Pakistan and an equal number of non-Muslims fleeing to India under the impact of communal riots with mass killin…
Date: 2019-01-30

Ādivāsīs

(5,599 words)

Author(s): Pfeffer, Georg
For millennia a major section of the Indian population has been loosely identified with the original inhabitants of the subcontinent – Ādivāsīs. They live on the Eastern and Western Ghats and other hills and highland plateaus, primarily those between Gaṅgā and Godāvarī. A relatively insignificant number of migrant herders in the western Himalayas carry the same administrative status, while the tribal population of the northeastern hill provinces may have become Indian in colonial times but remains culturally akin to the neighboring ethnic minorities of Burma and China.Throughout…
Date: 2019-01-30

Kinship and Marriage

(10,211 words)

Author(s): Pfeffer, Georg
Most people in the world conceive kinship and marriage as defined by nature in terms of universally similar relationships. Cultural comparison, however, reveals that even neighboring societies, let alone mutually distant peoples, have developed rather different patterns of who is to be regarded as kin and who may or must be married. What is self-understood and seen as natural within one society may provoke horror or ridicule in another. For example, a person’s ideal spouse in Hindu South India is defined as a sibling in most of Hindu North India, and therefore non-marriageable.Apart fr…
Date: 2019-01-30

Totemism

(820 words)

Author(s): Pfeffer, Georg
Totemism was a scientific illusion that long dominated ethnology until C. Lévi-Strauss (b. 1908) finally disproved it in 1962. The idea derived from the word ototeman in the Algonquin languages of North America and was given academic status by J F. McLennan (1827–81) in 1869. In 1910 J. G. Frazer (1854–1941) gave it wider currency. Three elements summarize totemism: (1) unilineal descent groups (clans); (2) emblems (totems) such as animals, plants, and, more rarely, other natural phenomena such as wind, the four points …