Social Scientist. v 28, no. 326-327 (July-Aug 2000) p. 80.

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Japanese Scholarship on India

Living With Sakti: Gender, Sexuality and Religion in South Asia. Edited by Masakazu Tanaka and Musashi Tachikawa, National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan, 1999

The person who knows only one religion does not know any religion. Friederich Max Muller in his book, Introduction to the Science of Religion, made this rather startling claim in 1873. He was applying to religion a saying of the poet Goethe: 'He who knows one language knows none.' This prudent circumspection would be, happily, in certain situations, somewhat superfluous today. There has been escalation in the subject of religion by different disciplines ranging from anthropology, history, philosophy and other writings of different hues. The manner in which they take up the discipline would of course vary in methodology in accordance to their particular predilections.

For a decade or more there has been a continual dialogue on the science and craft of ethnography. This has resulted today in an unequivocal acknowledgement that the ethnographical episteme is socially constituted, historically situated and understood by multiple perspectives. It is implicit today that cognizance needs to be taken of both the researcher and the people who are being researched thereby rendering the entire politics of representation a valid area of study. Ethnographers not only deal with shifting identities in different contexts but the power relations underlying the acts of ethnography have also recently been addressed. However, it still continues to draw upon the privileges of education, mobility and membership to a dominant class. The constant need is sensitivity where more collaborative and dialogic studies may be undertaken.

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