Apprenticeship in western India


Anthropology Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, UK.


A number of recent attempts to describe what happens in the ‘embodied’ space between action and the discursive language used to describe that action have been primarily informed by various Western theories of mind. In this article, I present an indigenous theory of what happens among Sunni Muslims in a South Asian context in the gap between linguistic utterances and the actions they purport to represent. The ethnography focuses on learning craft and social skills among apprentices in the shipyards in the Indian state of Gujarat. It is argued that acquiring both kinds of skills is underscored by particular conceptions of the body and the possible transformations of the soul through physical activity.