Social anthropology; South Asia, South Asian Muslims
PhD, Cornell University
Mines research specialty is South Asia, with a particular interest in south India where he has conducted four major research projects to date. Currently, his research is spurred by two important sociological and philosophical issues. First is the issue of the historical nature and role of individuality in ordinary life in Indian society. He is currently writing a book that puts south Indian awareness of self into historical context and explores its changing expressions and role in the practice and construction of ordinary life in Chennai (formerly Madras city).
His second issue, closely related to the first, is the exploration of the role of the individual as a social agent. The dominant view in 20th century social analysis is that the individual plays no significant role in social exploration or social history beyond that of resistance, indeed, that the creation of meaning and historical causation are beyond the capacity of the individual. His desire is to reclaim a broader interpretation of agency and of the individual as an essential creative agent in social history. His big aim is to develop a sociology that builds the perspective of how individuals themselves understand their own situations and explain their own actions, including the processes of these forms of self-consciousness.
- The Warrior Merchants: Textiles, Trade and Territory in South India. Cambridge University Press, 1984.
- Muslim Merchants: The Economic Behavior of an Indian Muslim Community. New Delhi: Sri Ram Centre, 1972.