Asian studies in Lithuania

Public lecture on the hierarchy in India and the West

Date and time: 2013-04-17 13:00- - 2013-04-17 14:30

Location: VMU Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy (Gedimino g. 44, Kaunas), 302

The VMU Centre for Asian Studies would like to invite all those interested to attend a public lecture which will be given by a guest professor Dr Robert Parkin from Oxford University. The title of the lecture – Louis Dumont: hierarchy and equality in India and the West. The lecture will be given in English.

The lecture will take place on 17 April (Wednesday) 13:00-14:30 at Vytautas Magnus University, Faculty of Political Sciences and Diplomacy (Gedimino st. 44, Kaunas), Room 302. The event is free.

Prof. Louis Dumont was a French anthropologist who is most famous for his comparative study of the Indian caste system, Homo hierarchicus. Both the caste system and this work have been repeatedly criticized in the West for extolling hierarchy and rejecting democratic values. However, Dumont later turned to the intellectual history of the West to trace the emergence of egalitarianism and individualism out of similarly hierarchical ideas. Through his model of hierarchical opposition, which he originally developed for his study of castes, we are able to explain why hierarchy has a place in contemporary Western practices, though devalued and though subordinated to the greater value given to equality.

Dr Robert Parkin’s main research interests are related to kinship, South Asia, French anthropology, Anthropology of Europe. The lecturer has made a detailed study of Dumont’s ideas and their practical application, his major work being Louis Dumont and hierarchical opposition. In 2002 Dr Parkin spent two months as a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany. In 1996 and 1997 he was employed successively on two ESRC research projects, one on Government, Society and the Jewish Minority in Poland since 1989, led by Dr Jonathan Webber, the other on the European Union, led by Dr Crispin Shore. He has been co-editor of the Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford, and is Assistant Secretary of the British Centre for Durkheimian Studies, ISCA.

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Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU