Alchemies of Violence: Myths of Identity and the Life of Trade in Western India

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SAGE, Aug 30, 2004 - Business & Economics - 254 pages
This study shows how myths construct and express the social identities of a community. Focusing on Rajasthan, it describes how myths here mostly centre around the theme of violence and its rejection. The social persona of the trading groups are created around this and hence issues of violence and its control emerge as the symbolic key to trader social identity in this cultural context.

Analyzing what myths have to say about traders, the author examines the nature of caste in general, as well as the specific place of trading castes in Indian society. Moreover he looks at the problems of the social identity of traders. By studying myths, the book shows how Indian trading groups have dealt with these problems by using symbolic material provided by their specific social and cultural milieu.

Finally the author looks at the role of myth itself as a repository of socially important knowledge.

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About the author (2004)

Dr Lawrence A. Babb is currently Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Amherst College, Massachusetts, where he has spent most of his career. His previous books are.The Divine Hierarchy: Popular Hinduism in Central India (1975), Redemptive Encounters: Three Modern Styles in the Hindu Tradition (1986) and Absent Lord: Ascetics and Kings in a Jain Ritual Culture (1996). He has also co-edited Media and The Trans- formation of Religion in South Asia (1995) [with Susan S. Wadley] and Multiple Histories: Culture and Society in the Study of Rajasthan (2002) [with Michael Meister and Varsha Joshi].

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