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The hypothesis of the paper is twofold. By juxtaposing the two subject-positions of mistress and servant, moving between one and the other to highlight how each is largely constructed by the interaction, we illuminate the questions of margin and centre, silence and voice, and can ponder on how to do anthropology better. But secondly, to the work of several scholars who propose various approaches to these questions, I add the particular insight offered by the perspective of education. Because one of the subject-positions is that of ‘the scholar’, someone professionally engaged in knowledge production, the new question I want to consider is regarding the formation of this authoritative knowledge, its seemingly autonomous history, and the existing and potential intersections of that history with the history of the ‘non-scholar’. If I study India the question is how the history of India impinges on the history of the subjects involved in the study. The solution proposed is a radical one. Might one consider that the fancily educated, laboriously trained western or modern indigenous scholar who is in the field to do her research for degree or publication may contribute something to the necessary education of her less-than-perfectly educated informants? If this sounds illegitimate or unfeasible, I suggest that it is so because of certain problems in our understanding of ‘colonialism’ and ‘culture’, and that these could be resolved particularly by reflecting further on several histories. My suggestion then is to work to create what I call a postcolonial context, defined by the attempt to minimize the dichotomy between the scholar as subject and her non-scholarly, indeed, unschooled, subjects of study.


Previously linked to as:,262.

Source: Author's manuscript in pdf.

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© 2007 Oxford University Press India

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