My only (minor) crib with the review and possibly with the book is that there is no mention of Radhakamal Mukherji who pioneered the teaching of sociology in the 1930s at Lucknow University, though the contributions of his colleague D.P. Mukherji are well recounted.
However, these life histories of pioneers also tell us about the larger social contexts in which sociology/social anthropology, and perhaps, other social sciences began to be practised in India during the colonial period, the kind of people who came to occupy positions in the university system and the kind of knowledge they produced about Indian society. With the exception of two “foreigners”, all the Indian scholars were upper caste Hindus. With the exception of one upper caste brahmin woman, they were all men.
How come we did not have a Muslim or Christian sociologist or social anthropologist, nor a dalit or a tribal? Is it a mere accident or a reflection of something more? Why is it that sociologists and social anthropologists have remained preoccupied with the study of their own society, the Indian Hindu society, the caste system, family and the village, and at the macro level, the challenges of nation building?
The idea of Indian society, as it has been articulated by “mainstream sociology” of India also needs to be understood in this social context of sociology. It was not only Ghurye who saw Indian society to be essentially a Hindu society. Similarly, despite being a major preoccupation with sociologists and social anthropology, we have very little written on the oppressive and dehumanising aspects of caste system.
Likewise, studies of tribal communities also in most cases remain descriptive in nature. Islam has always been a major faith tradition in south Asia. How come we see very little engagement with Islamic traditions as being part of the civilisational values of Indian society? Why, until some time back, no serious attempts were made at studying the Muslims communities of India and their social structure?