Jan Brouwer

1948 –
cultural anthropology, handicrafts, artisans
South India

Curriculum vitae

1948born in Amsterdam
studied anthropology at Leiden University
1988PhD under the supervision of J.C. Heesterman and P.E. de Josselin de Jong, Leiden University
2001-2005professor of cultural anthropology, North-Eastern Hill University in Shillong
2001visiting professor of anthropology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris
presentvisiting professor of anthropology, USD, Mysore and PICA, Mumbai

Special activities and positions

  • Member executive board of the Netherlands-India Association, 1987-1989
  • Member executive board of the National Association South Asian Studies (WOTRO), The Hague, 1988-1990
  • Member Advisory Committee for South Asian Studies to WOTRO, The Hague, 1989-1990
  • Convenor of international conferences a.o. in Mysore (1994, 2000) and Surat (1998)
  • Member Committee on Planning of Integrated Traffic Management, Mysore, 1995-2002
  • Vice president of the Centre of Cooperative Research in the Social Sciences, Pune, India
  • Elected member executive board Mysore Music Association, 1997-2003 and 2005-2007
  • Member of the Sri Kanteerava Narasimharaja Sports Club, Mysore (2001-present)
  • Director Anthropology Brouwer Consultancy, The Hague-Mysore-Pune, 2012-present
    Member editorial board of the Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, New Delhi, 2001-present


1977  Handicrafts and craftsmen: some aspects of the social relations of the sandalwood- and rosewoodcarvers in rural and urban settings, Malnad Region and Mysore City, Karnataka State, India, Leiden (Publicatie / Instituut voor Culturele Antropologie en Sociologie der Niet-Westerse Volken, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden 20).
1978  “Structural analysis of a Visvakarma handbill collected in Karnataka State, India.” Paper presented to the Xth ICAES, New Delhi.
& R. Payyanad, “Structural analysis of the Sri Mutappa myth.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the FFI, Mysore.
1981  Review of: Documents relating to the Karnataka Industrial Sheds Project, Mysore (for the Royal Netherlands Embassy, New Delhi).
1985  “Stone and wood: their significance for the study of the Indian artisans.” In: A. Boeren et al. (eds), Festschrift Prof. A.A. Gerbrands, Leiden (ICA Publication 71).
1987  “An exploration of the traditional division of labour between the sexes in South Indian crafts.” In: A.M. Singh and A. Kelles-Viitanen (eds), Invisible hands: women in home-based production : [papers from the Regional conference for Asia on women and the household held in New Delhi from 27 to 31 January 1985], New Delhi: Sage, pp. 145-164.
“The story of the magnetic fort.” In: A. de Ridder and J.A.J. Karremans (eds), The Leiden tradition in structural anthropology: essays in honour of P.E. de Josselin de Jong, Leiden: Brill, pp. 161-169.
“A matter of liminalities: a study of women and crafts in South India.” Man in India 67,1: 1-22.
“Riddles of raw materials: an exploration of the artisans’ view of stones and wood.” Man in India 67,2: 147-159.
& L. J. Slikkerveer, Ignorance of local knowledge and perceptions as an impediment to development: the case of artisans organisation in South India, Leiden: University of Leiden (ICA working paper 72). – Paper presented to the International Symposium on Science, Technology and Development, New Delhi.
1988  Coping with dependence: craftsmen and their ideology in Karnataka (South India), s.l. – PhD thesis Leiden University.
1990  “Material expressions of thought: aspects of ironsmiths in South India.” Techniques et Cultures 15: 105-129.
“The South Indian blacksmith and goldsmith: the Visvakarma view on iron and gold.” Indologica Taurinensia 15-16 [1989-90]: 91-104.
1991  “The artisans of India and Visvakarmas of Karnataka.” The Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society 86,1/2: 1-30.
“Die Gesellschaft als Körper: Geschlechtsspezifische Arbeitsteilung in Südindien.” Zeitschrift für Semiotik 13,1/2: 23-42.
The choice of names: the use of names by Visvakarma artisans of Karnataka, Mysore: Place Names Society of India (The Haridas Bhat Endowment Lecture 1991, Lecture Series No.7).
1992  “The latecomers: a case study of caste and sub-caste of goldsmiths in Karnataka, South India.” In: A.W. van den Hoek, D.H.A. Kolff, M.S. Oort (eds), Ritual, state and history in South Asia: essays in honour of J.C. Heesterman, Leiden: Brill (Memoirs of the Kern Institute 5), pp. 433-454.
“The modern state, Indian traditions and development.” In: V. N. Bhat (ed.), Development emerging sociological challenges, Kuvempu University, Shimoga, pp. 37-46.
1993  Cultural ideology and economic decisions: a case study of goldsmith in South India, New Delhi-The Hague (Occasional papers and reprints / Indo-Dutch Programme on Alternatives in Development 1993,1).
1995  The makers of the world: caste, craft and mind of South Indian artisans, Delhi: Oxford University Press.
“Contemporary social scientists, culture and computer.” In: B. N. Saraswati (ed.), Computerizing cultures, New Delhi: IGNCA and New Age Institution Publishers, pp. 66-75.
“The Visvakarma world-view.” In: Kapila Vatsyayan (ed.), Prakriti: the integral vision, vol.1: Primal elements: the oral tradition, New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, pp. 71-85.
1996  “Indigenous knowledge and languages, a congress held at Mysore from 11-17 January 1996.” IIAS Newsletter 8.
“Units of production in South India: an explanation of artisans’ choices.” In: Sanjay Subrahmanyam and Burton Stein (eds), Institutions and economics change in South Asia, New Delhi: Oxford Univ. Press, pp. 249-274.
“Artisanal units of production in South India: an exploration of the artisans’ choices.” In: B. Stein and S.Subrahmanyam (eds), Reader on production units in micro- and macro-structural perspectives, Delhi, pp. 237-248.
1997  “The goddess for development: indigenous economic concepts among south Indian artisans [Visvakarma caste, Karnataka].” Social Anthropology 5,1: 69-82.
“Trees for timber and trees for the forest: aspects of indigenous knowledge of wood and stone in Karnataka, India.” In: Klaus Seeland and Franz Schmithusen (eds), Forstwissenschaftliche Beitrage der Professur Forstpolitik und Forstoekonomie 19. Local knowledge of forests and forest uses among tribal communities in India, Zurich: Department Wald-und Holzforschung, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, pp. 160-170.
“The Indigenous concept of development in a contemporary local artisans’ narrative in Karnataka.” Journal of Social Sciences 2,4: 233-239.
“Nomenclative expressions of thought: place names and other names related to artisans and their work in Karnataka.” Journal of Social Sciences 2,1: 17-29.
1998  “Indigenous knowledge, indigenous knowledge systems and indigenous technological knowledge: definitions.” Indigenous Knowledge and Development Monitor 6,3: 13.
Review of: Heidrun Bruckner, Fürstliche Feste: Texte und Rituale der Tulu Volksreligion an der Westküste Südindiens, Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz 1995. Asiatische Studien 52.
Reply to: Paul Sillitoe’s paper “The development of indigenous knowledge: a new applied anthropology.” In: Current Anthropology 39,3: 351.
Review of: Ulrich Demmer, Verwandtschaft und Sozialitaet bei den Jenu Kurumba – vom Arbeiten, vom Teilen und vom (Un)gleichheit in einer Suedindischen Sammler- und Jaegergesellschaft, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 1996. Asiatische Studien 52,4.
Review of: Georg Pfeffer and Deepak K. Behera, Contemporary tribal studies, 2 vols, Delhi: Concept Publishing Company 1997. Journal of Social Sciences 2,1.
1999  “Artisans oral tradition as a resource on history.” In: J. Assayag (ed.), The resources of history: tradition, narration and nation in South Asia, Paris: École francaise d’ Extrême-Orient; Pondichéry: Institut francais de Pondichéry, pp. 213-232.
“Modern and indigenous perceptions in small enterprises.” EPW 34,48: M152-M156.
“South Indian craftsmen and indigenous economic concepts underlying their production and marketing practices.” In: Maker and meaning: craft and society: proceedings of the seminar, January 1999, Chennai: Madras Craft Foundation.
“The complex sign processes of South Indian artisans.” European Journal for Semiotic Studies 11,1/3: 27-56.
“Feminism and the indigenous knowledge system in India: an exploration.” In: R. Indira and D.K. Behera (eds), Gender and society in India, Delhi: Mana Publications, pp. 14-30.
“Artisans’ narratives and the indigenous concept of development.” Journal of Indian Folkloristics NS 1,1: 61-70.
“Urban settlement patterns of artisans in Karnataka: geographical expressions of thought.” The Eastern Anthropologist 52,3: 261-270.
“The Indian blacksmith.” In: T. B. Subba (ed.), Wonder that is culture, New Delhi: Mittal Publications, pp. 195-222.
2000  “Conflict between modern and indigenous concepts in the small enterprise workplace: a proposal.” Social Anthropology 8,2: 181-201.
“Practices are not without concepts: reflections on the use of indigenous knowledge in artisan and agricultural projects in India.” Journal of Social Sciences 4,1 (Special issue): 1-9.
“Pancabhuta as an expression of the Self: (Project Report).” Vihangama 8: 14-15.
“Small enterprises: the modern and indigenous perceptions.” In: P.M. Mathew (ed.), Small enterprise development: the experience of the South and the North, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
“Trees for timber and trees for the forest: aspects of indigenous knowledge of wood and stone in Karnataka, India. In: K. Seeland and Fr. Schmithusen (eds), Man in the forest: local knowledge and sustainable management of forests and natural resources in tribal communities in India, New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, pp. 345-360. – Cf. 1997.
2002  “Artisans indigenous knowledge: its relevance for development.” In: R.K. Bhattacharya and S.B. Chakrabarti (eds), Indian artisans: social institutions and cultural values, Kolkata: Anthropological Survey of India, pp. 23-42.
“Multiculturalism as a modern and an indigenous concept in India.” In: K. Deb (ed.), Mapping multiculturalism, Jaipur: Rawat Publications, pp. 276-294.
& T.B. Subba, “A unique university in Northeast India: NEHU and its possibilities.” IIAS Newsletter 28: 27.
2003  “Modern media of communication and indigenous knowledge in India and Europe: towards an anthropological perspective.” In: Jos Gommans & Om Prakash (eds), Circumambulations in South Asian history: essays in honour of Dirk H.A. Kolff, Leiden [etc.] (Brill’s Indological Library 19), pp. 307-324.
“Indigenous knowledge, state and society: an exploration.” In: P. K. Misra (ed.), Studies in Indian anthropology: felicitation volume in honour of Professor Gopal Sarana, Delhi: Mittal.
Review of: Burkhard Schnepel, Die Dschungelkönig: ethnohistorische Aspekte von Politik und Ritual in Südorissa, Indien, Würzburg: Ergon 1997. Asiatische Studien 57,4.
2004  “Cultural interaction, christianity and conversion: an anthropological perspective.” In: T.B. Subba and Sujit Som (eds), Between ethnography and fiction: Verrier Elwin and the tribal question in India, New Delhi: Orient Longman.
“An exploration of indigenous knowledge for an anthropology of India.” In: P.K. Misra (ed.), Studies in Indian anthropology, New Delhi: Rawat Publications.
2005  Et al. editor of: Communication processes, vol. 1: Media and mediation, New Delhi: Sage.
2006  Et al. editor of: Communication processes, vol. 2: The social and the symbolic, New Delhi: Sage.
“Indigenous knowledge and cultural interaction.” In: Lotika Varadarajan (ed.), Indo-Portuguese encounters: journeys in science, technology and culture, vol. 2, New Delhi-Lisbon, pp 649-665.
2007  “Culture and contrasting views on the individual, autonomy and mortality with special reference to India.” In: Paula Banerjee and Samir K. Das (eds), Autonomy beyond Kant and hermeneutics, London: Anthem Press, chapter 1.
2008  Et al. editor of: Communication processes, vol. 3: Culture and confrontation, New Delhi: Sage.