International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

H. H. Risley (1851-1911) was the pre-eminent colonial anthropologist in British India, whose principal works were The Tribes and Castes of Bengal (1891) and The People of India (1908), which was based on a chapter on ‘caste, tribe and race’ he wrote in the report of the 1901 census of India. His main contributions to anthropological knowledge lay in the ethnography of tribes and castes, and the analysis of caste and hierarchy, but his racial theory of caste has long been discredited. He consistently sought to promote anthropological inquiry in India and was active in learned societies in both India and Europe. Risley was a member of the Indian Civil Service – like most leading colonial anthropologists in British India in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Keywords: Physical anthropology | Social anthropology | Ethnography | United Kingdom | India | British Raj | Social Organization | Caste

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