International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

Son of an Anglican bishop, Verrier Elwin (1902-1964) studied literature and theology at Oxford, with a passion for poetry and mysticism. Upon being ordained a minister of the Anglican Church, he joined a Christian hermitage in India as a missionary in 1927 to serve the poor and “repair” the faults of colonialism. He embraced Gandhi’s cause and devoted himself to the so-called tribal populations of Central India (1932-42). He abandoned the Church for literature and then anthropology, publishing many books. After ethnographic surveys in Orissa (1943-46), he was appointed Deputy Director of the Anthropological Survey of India (1947-49), then “tribal affairs adviser” to Nehru for the North-East Frontier Agency (1954-64), advocating an administration that respected tribal specificities.

Keywords: Christian missions | Missionary | 20th century | United Kingdom | India | Adivasi | Scheduled Tribes | Gond | Baiga | Muria | Sora | Mythology | Sexuality | Shamanism | Spirituality and mysticism | Vodun | Ethnopoetics

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