Conflicting Constructions
Nita Kumar
LIFE ON THE GANGA: BOATMEN AND THE RITUAL ECONOMY OF BANARAS by Assa Doron Cambridge University Press, 2013, 239 pp., price not stated
December 2013, volume 37, No 12

As a Doron, Director of the South Asia Research Institute at the Australian National University, and formerly tourist, tour guide, then anthropologist in Banaras, demonstrates in this book the different, difficult, complexly interwoven feats that the discipline of anthropology is capable of. The setting of the book is Banaras. The book is partly about Banaras. Banaras is an ancient, religious, commercial, and ideological centre, as everyone knows, and as presented by academic literature. Banaras is also self reflexive in that it offers its very self up for consumption and gaze, and produces discourses on that; and it is academically reflexive in that many scholars include, in their various topical studies, a reflection on its self-constructions and constructions by others. Doron’s book is a welcome addition to the literature on these processes including that by Alter, Arnold, Bayly, Cohn, Eck, Freitag, Gooptu, Hess, Humes, Kumar, Lutgendorf, Pandey, Parry, Searle-Chatterjee, and Vidyarthi (going only by his own bibliography).

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