Professor Emeritus (Social cultural anthropology), University of Berkeley, Berkeley, USA.
His research and teaching focuses largely on comparative social inequality. Other interests include environmental issues and movements, human rights, anthropological ethics, ethnographic methods, and social change in urban, rural and small-scale societies. Geographic areas of special concern are South Asia (especially Himalayan regions of India and Nepal), with secondary interests in American society, the Aleuts and other Arctic and Native American peoples.
His theoretical approach, and its apposite methodology, he calls \\\"social interactionist,\\\" which articulates with \\\"symbolic interactionism,\\\" \\\"ethnomethodology, \\\"cognitive sociology, \\\" and recently, \\\"practice theory.\\\" That is, it focuses on the relationship among cognition (including perception and understanding), belief (including value), power and behavior.
Recent and current research has been in India and Nepal, dealing with issues of environment and development, and responses to them by local people and by administrators and other outsider elites. His most intensive such work has dealt comparatively with Chipko, the famous grassroots environmental movement in India\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Garhwal Himalayas, and the anti-big dam movements in India and Nepal, together with governmental responses to them.
For some 40 years he has pursued a longitudinal study of social inequality (caste, gender, class) and environment in their historical context in a Garhwal village (Sirkanda) and its region. By way of comparison in both culture and scale, he has studied ethnic diversity and inequality in the central bazaar of a city of the adjacent plains (Dehra Dun) and its surroundings.
1960 “Caste in India and the United States” inAmerican Journal of Sociology 66:120-127.
1962a Behind Many Masks: Ethnography and Impression Management in a Himalayan Village. Ithaca, NY: Society for Applied Anthropology.
1962b “Caste, Racism and Stratification” in Contributions to Indian Sociology 6:511-512.
1971 “Self, Situation, and Escape from Stigmatized Ethnic Identity” in 1971 Yearbook of the Ethnographic Museum, University of Oslo, pp. 11-25. Oslo: Universitetsforlager.
1972a “Race, Caste and Other Invidious Distinctions in Social Stratification,” Theme issue, Race 23(4):385-414.
1972b “Social Categories and Social Interactionism in Urban India” inAmerican Anthropologist 74(3):567-586.
1976 “Social Mobility and Change in India\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s Caste Society” in Responses to Change, pp. 294-322. Ed. George DeVos. New York: D. Van Nostrand.
1980 “Social Inequality: A Cross-Cultural Analysis” inSocial Inequality: Comparative and Developmental Approaches, pp. 3-40. Ed. Gerald Berreman. New York: Academic Press.
1984 “Identity Definition, Assertion, and Politicization in the Central Himalayas” in Identity: Personal and Socio-Cultural, pp. 289-319.Ed. Anita Jacobson-Widding. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell.
1993 \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\"Sanskritization as Female Oppression in India\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\" in Sex and GenderHierarchies, pp. 366-92. Ed. B. Miller. New York: Cambridge University Press.
1999 \"Seeking Social Justice: Ethnic Politics in India, the United States and Japan\" inPlenary Lectures of the Second International Human Rights Seminar, 1998, pp. 45-112. Osaka, Japan: Kansai University Press.
2001 \"Inequality, Comparative Aspects\" inInternational Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, pp. 7377-82. Ed. Michael Lax.; section ed. Ulf Hannerz.Oxford: Elsevier Science.