DUMONT, Louis Charles Jean

DUMONT, Louis Charles Jean. Thessaloniki 1911 — Paris 19.11.1998. French Sociologist and Indologist. Son of a railway engineer, lost early his father. After restless youth (he left school at 18 and tried various odd jobs) he studied ethnology under Mauss. The plans of a doctorate about Celtic survivals in French material culture were discontinued, when he participated in the WW II and was 1940-45 prisoner of war in Germany (and capable of studying Sanskrit under W. Schubring). From 1946 Assistant of the French National Museums. Field-work in South India in 1949-50 (Pramalai Kallar sub-caste on the coast of Tamilnadu), then in eastern Uttar Pradesh in 1954 and 1957-58. Ph.D. 1954 Paris. In 1951-55 Lecturer in Indian Sociology at Oxford, from 1955 directeur d’études at É.P.H.É. in Paris. Married Suzanne Tardieu, no children.

As a sociologist LD came from the school of Durkheim and Mauss (but also Max Weber and Evans-Pritchard) and emphasized the hierarchical structures in traditional society. The results of the North Indian field-work remained partly unpublished, when he turned to theoretical questions. He knew both Sanskrit and Tamil and always emphasized the importance of language studies to his students.

Publications: La Tarasque. Essai de description d’un fait local d’un point de vue ethnographique. 252 p. L’espèce humaine 8. P. 1951.

– “Définition structurale d’un dieu populaire tamoul”, JA 241, 1953, 255-270, again in 1964 book, English in Contr. to Indian Soc. 3, 1959; “The conception of kingship in ancient India”, Contr. to Indian Soc. 6, 1962, 48-67; further articles.

diss. Une sous-caste de l’Inde du sud. Organisation sociale et religion des Pramalai Kallar. 461 p. P. & the Hague 1957; English transl.: A South Indian subcaste. Social organization and religion of the Pramalai Kallar. Transl. by M. Moffatt, L. and A. Morton, revised by the author and A. Stern. 524 p. Delhi 1986.

diss. II. Hiérarchie et alliance. Notes comparatives sur la parenté dans l’Inde du Sud. 72 p. 10 fig. Paris n.d.; Hierarchy and Marriage. Alliance in South Indian Kinship. 45 p. Royal Anthrop. Soc. Occasional Papers 12. L. L. 1957.

La civilisation indienne et nous. Esquisse de sociologie comparée. 113 p. P. 1964.

Ed. with D. F. Pocock: Contributions to Indian Sociology. 1-9. the Hague 1957-66.

Homo hierarchicus. Essai sur le système des castes. 447 p. P. 1967, English tr. Homo hierarchicus. The Caste System and its Implications. 386 p. L. & Chicago 1970, German Munich 1976.

Religion/Politics and History in India. Collected Papers in Indian Sociology. 166 p. P. & the Hague 1970.

Dravidien et Kariera. L’alliance de mariage dans l’Inde du Sud, et en Australie. 148 p. Textes de Sciences Sociales 14. 1975; Affinity as a value. Marriage alliance in South India, with comparative essays on Australia. 240 p. Chicago 1983.

Homo aequalis. Genèse et épanuissement de l’idéologie économique. P. 1977, English tr.: From Mandeville to Marx. The genesis and triumph of economic ideology. Chicago 1977; other works.

Sources: N.J. Allen, JASO 19, 1998, 1-4; *J. Bronkhorst, “LD et les renonçants indiens”, Or. Suec. 45-46, 1996-97, 9-12; M. Gaborieau, D.O.L.F. 331f.; *J.-C. Galey (ed.), Différences, valeurs, hiérarchie. Textes offerts à L. D. P. 1984; *R. Lardinois, “LD et la science indigène”, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociale 106-107, 1995, 11-26; *R. Lardinois, “Genesis of LD’s Anthropology”, J. Assayag & R. Lardinois & D. Vidal: Orientalism and Anthropology. From Max Müller to Louis Dumont. Pondy Papers in Social Sciences 24. Pondichéry 1997, 2nd impr. 2001, 31-59 & J. Assayag, “Indianism and the comparative theory of LD”, Ibid. 61-87; *T.N. Madan (ed.), Way of Life: King, Householder, Renouncer. Essays in Honour of L.D. Delhi 1982; *T.N. Madan, “LD and the Study of Society in India”, in his Pathways. Approaches to the Study of Society in India. N.D. 1994, 51-84; M.-L. Reiniche, “L. D. et la notion de hiérarchie”, BEI 15, 1997, 20-27; *Contributions to Indian Sociology 1999, 475-501 with full bibliography; French Wikipédia (English version very briefly).


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