The past as a scarce resource?.

Arjun Appadurai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The assumption that the past is an infinite and plastic symbolic resource, wholly susceptible to contemporary purposes, is widespread in contemporary anthropology. It is partly rooted in Malinowski's conception of myth as social charter and partly in Durkheim's formulation concerning the cross-cultural relativity of fundamental categories of human thought. This article is a critique of this assumption, and suggests the existence of culturally variable sets of norms whose function is to regulate the inherent debatability of the past. Such norms, which vary substantively from culture to culture, are nevertheless from a formal point of view subject to certain universal constraints. An example from south India is the basis for this argument, which also has implications for the theoretical analysis of social change. -Author

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-219
Number of pages19
JournalMan
Volume16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1981

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social charter
anthropology
social change
resource
resources
myth
plastic
India
norm
Resources
analysis
Emile Durkheim
Human Thought
South India
Charter
Relativity
Conception
Anthropology
Fundamental

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Appadurai, A. (1981). The past as a scarce resource?. Man, 16(2), 201-219.

The past as a scarce resource?. / Appadurai, Arjun.

In: Man, Vol. 16, No. 2, 01.01.1981, p. 201-219.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Appadurai, A 1981, 'The past as a scarce resource?.', Man, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 201-219.
Appadurai A. The past as a scarce resource?. Man. 1981 Jan 1;16(2):201-219.
Appadurai, Arjun. / The past as a scarce resource?. In: Man. 1981 ; Vol. 16, No. 2. pp. 201-219.
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