- 6 x 9.
- 10 photographs, 1 table, 3 maps, 2 illustrations.
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- $37.95 U.S.
In this rich ethnographic study, Kelly D. Alley sheds light on debates about water uses, wastewater management, and the meanings of waste and sacred power. On the Banks of the Ganga analyzes the human predicaments that result from the accumulation and disposal of waste by tracing how citizens of India interpret the impact of wastewater flows on a sacred river and on their own cultural practices.
Alley investigates ethno-semantic, discursive, and institutional data to flesh out the interplay between religious, scientific, and official discourses about the river Ganga. Using a new outward layering methodology, she points out that anthropological analysis must separate the historical and discursive strands of the debates concerning waste and sacred purity in order to reveal the cultural complexities that surround the Ganga. Ultimately, she addresses a deeply rooted cultural paradox: if the Ganga river is considered sacred by Hindus across India, then why do the people allow it to become polluted?
Examining areas of contemporary concern such as water usage and urban waste management in the most populated river basin in the world, this book will appeal to anthropologists and readers in religious, environmental, and Asian studies, as well as geography and law.
"The book is exemplary in its patient, detailed parsing of one of the most powerful examples of the sort of colliding cultural categories and definitions which ethnographers face more often than many are willing to admit."
—Journal of Anthropological Research
". . . truly pathbreaking. Based on more than eight years of tenacious fieldwork at Varanasi, Kanpur, and other sites along the Ganges, the book is not only a sensitive portrayal of the problems, conflicts, and solutions to a significant environmental problem of our times but also offers a perceptive view of Indian spirituality and its conflicts with issues of the material world. . . . [O]ffers unique and interesting insights about cultural practices and beliefs in a civilization which has been subjected to centuries of colonial rule and in which elements of the past are juxtaposed with the present. Using the Ganges as a case study, this book demonstrates the complexity of issues in a developing country such as India and is likely to be useful to students, research scholars, environmentalists, policymakers, and others."
—Journal of Asian Studies