Saloni Mathur


In anthropology today there exists a considerable anxiety over the problem of representation. How can we understand when 'knowledge is power' without upsetting, or appropriating the selflother balance? In an effort to deal with this anthropological dilemma, writing 'about writing' has become a focal point of attention for authors like James Clifford, George Marcus, Vincent Crapanzano, Nancy Schmidt and Clifford Geertz, to name only a few. Bruce Kapferer has identified the concern over this issue as a "rapidly developing dominant anthropological genre" (1989:77). Elsewhere, the issue has been described as the "new anthropology" (see Clifford and Marcus 1986), or "the spirit of post-modernism" in a post-colonial ethos (Said 1989:222). In the context of this largely Euro-American current of discourse appears Amitav Ghosh: a little known Indian anthropologist and novelist in Delhi. The subject of this paper is an examination of Ghosh and his recent work, The Circle of Reason (1986), in relation to a backdrop of contemporary anthropological theory.