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Vikas Baniwal

By Marine Carrin, Harald Tambs-Lyche and Dominique Blanc
Year 2016, pp. 206, Rs. 1284.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

Unlike the conventional understanding of knowledge as a fixed body of information approved by a body of experts, this volume presents an ever changing and ever-evolving conception of knowledge. Though the themes of the volume seem largely sociological in nature, they have implications for other disciplines such as, philosophy, education, and social work. In these essays, there seems to be semblance of an interface, occasionally amounting to transgression about the various claims about knowledge that are made, beyond the fixed conventional boundaries of disciplines, ideas, and geographies. One also finds that the themes attempt to eschew the generally accepted dualisms like mind-body, individual-society, and internal-external, in their attempt to emphasize the relevance and validity of indigenous knowledge. These essays may also be conceived as a postcolonial response to the hegemony of ‘western’, ‘scientific’, and ‘rational’ knowledge claims. The introduction is quite comprehensive, highlights all these issues and orients readers to all the essays and their thematic foci. A point of emphasis that runs through the essays is that it is various aspects of culture that affect the experience and acquisition of knowledge as lived and embodied, rather than as a commodity or in any edified and codified language. It is this knowledge that is essentially cultural and contextually relevant, unlike the Cartesian cogito. It is on such a ground that the idea of knowledge in the indigenous traditions, cultures, and philosophical frameworks has been discussed in these essays. Guzy’s essay emphasizes the importance of music and dance in knowledge sharing in western Odisha, where art, culture, and dance are considered to be expressions of cultural knowledge systems. In their para-linguistic modes music and dance connect an individual with the cosmic order and the Dalkhai dance and songs are then ways to worship the goddess and brothers; a metaphor for production, creation, life, and wealth; and a puberty initiation ritual of the girl child for her transition into adulthood. Nevot’s discussion of childhood in a Yi group of the Yunnan province in China focuses on the ‘sacred’ relationship between the Masters of Psalmody, Bimos and the cosmos. The relationship comes into focus when, in the funeral rituals, the Masters recite the chapter about the period or time of birth and the period or time of youth, in which the dead person’s life is replayed and, to some extent, recreated. This replayed life is essentially the institutionalized life of ...

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