Yes, anthropology is alive and well, in the islands and it’s having a field day in the news. The Indian Express on Sunday gave us a double-page spread (slugged ‘Black and White’) with a field guide to "the tribes and their survival tricks". The Great Andamanese "whose strongest physical characteristics are distinctly Negroid"; the Jarawas who "look at heavenly bodies and can decipher what is to come"; the Shompen, "the only primitive tribe of the islands with Mongoloid features", and so on.
It’s revealing that most journalists have invoked racial labels like Mongoloid or Negroid (I’ve even read ‘Negrative’) only as a marker of primitivism. Meanwhile, NDTV’s more sensitive reporter wittered on about the "dignity" of Nicobarese tribals, and the BBC’s web edition fretted about the fate of "some rare indigenous tribal groups". >> continue