Although temples have been important in South Indian society and history, there have been few attempts to study them within an integrated anthropological framework. Professor Appadurai develops such a framework in this ethnohistorical case study, in which he interprets the politics of worship in the Sri Partasarati Svami Temple, a famous ancient Sri Vaisnava shrine in India. The author uses the methods and concepts of both cultural anthropology and social history to construct a model of institutional change in South Asia under colonial rule. Focusing on the problem of authority as a cultural concept and as a managerial reality, Professor Appadurai considers some classic problems of South Asian anthropology: problems of deference, sumptuary symbolism, and religious organization. In addition, he addresses such issues as the nature of conflict under a hybrid colonial legal system, the political implications of sumptuary disputes, and the structure of relations between polity and religion in pre-modern South Asia. These aspects of the study should interest a broad range of scholars.
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