Donald Attwood DS’60 Emeritus Professor at McGill University in Montreal recently completed Inside-Outside: Two Views of Social Change in Rural India co-authored with B.S. Baviskar. The book is a study of rural life as examined by two academics from very different backgrounds; one an insider – Sociologist Baburao Baviskar who grew up in the small village of Pilkhod in western peninsular India – and the other an outsider – Anthropologist Donald Attwood who grew up in suburban Illinois. Dr. Baviskar was a professor of Sociology at University of Delhi (who died in 2013 at the age of 83 just as the two friends were completing their book). The two had collaborated on numerous research projects since first meeting in 1969 while Don was doing fieldwork in India as a Fulbright scholar.
The book explores how the varying perspectives of two different observers (Western & Eastern, distant & familiar) can strengthen the value of fieldwork and result in more nuanced and informed study. The authors unravel a number of stereotypes regarding presumed cultural and economic constrictions of rural Indian life. Dr. Baviskar serves as both subject and researcher, telling his own life story in the process. And to further illustrate the book’s premise, Dr. Atwood tells of his own early life and experiences in India as well. In his summary, Professor Attwood states: This is not a bookish book. Our book has come to resemble a mythical beast – a sphinx, griffin, or centaur – with parts combined from various creatures. We tell our own life stories and also a variety of stories from villagers we have known. Some of these stories are interesting or amusing in themselves, others offer insight into larger issues. The book is slated for publication by Sage Press in India in late 2013. Distribution in North America is yet to be determined.