This book deals with the historical genesis of the sociology of India in France as it was exemplified in the work of Louis Dumont. It locates Dumont’s theoretical framework in the long history of scholarship on India in France since the beginning of the 19th century. It considers together the scholars and the essayists, poets, or esotericists who published on India and shows that Dumont has been influenced by both groups. This understanding illuminates the main criticism that is still addressed to Homo hierarchicus , which is that in this book Dumont mistook the internal, Brahminical view point on the caste system for its sociological one’s.
In the last chapter, the book contrasts Dumont’s work with issues raised by McKim Marriott’s project and the Subaltern studies. It defends that the core issue dealt with by all scholars is the epistemic status given to scientific knowledge of the Indian society, and consequently the epistemic status given to the scientific reason, an issue much debated by Western and Eastern scholars. From a methodological view point, this book draws on archives and empirical material in order to break with a pure internal intellectual history.
About the Author
ROLAND LARDINOIS is a sociologist, Director of Research at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Paris (France). He is Fellow at the Centre d’études de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris. He has published works on the history of family in India, historical demography of South India, history of Indian scholarship in France, and edited a volume of correspondence exchanged between Sylvain Lévi and Russian Orientalist scholars.