Abstract

I began the work of this paper by trying to specify the different kinds of “hierarchy” that Louis Dumont uses in Homo Hierarchicus. Such an inventory, I thought, might be helpful to those who find the book difficult to read. Unexpectedly, in the course of the exercise, I began to uncover Dumont's argument and to find what I take to be solutions to two of the problems I had continued to have with this monumental work, even though it had been amply reviewed and discussed. I had been troubled by the mystery of “the mantle of our Lady,” that odd process of the encompassing and the encompassed, and the lack of fit between Dumont's model of the Indian caste system and that of his Anglo- American-trained colleagues. In the paper below, I present the inventory, argument, and solutions mentioned, as well as their implications for an understanding of Homo Hierarchicus by the empirically oriented social scientist.

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