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Anthropologists and the Study of Formal Education: Nationalism, School Curriculum and Human Development
Veronique Benei
This article takes as its departing point the quantitative approach to knowledge and education prevalent in current studies of human development. Articulating a concern for human development together with explorations of formal schooling and nationalism, the article begins with an overview of the place occupied in anthropology by the study of formal education, illuminating why and how this domain of enquiry has become crucial for anthropologists interested in human development broadly, and in the political precisely. The article then focuses on India and the regional state of Maharashtra as a case study. The Maharashtrian material leads to a reflection on the category of the ‘subject’ as it has developed in the social sciences, with bearing upon the theoretical construction of human development. The article ends with a discussion of the practical necessity for students and planners of human development to investigate categories together with the modalities of classroom practice in the negotiation of curricula. This, it is argued, is crucial to a fuller understanding and appraisal of the implications of imparting and gaining knowledge and education.

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