Love, as a force in human affairs, is still not given much attention or credency by social scientists. With Notes on Love in a Tamil Family, Margaret Trawick places the notion of love prominently in social scientific discourse. Her unforgettable and profusely illustrated study is a significant contribution to anthropology and to South Asian studies.
Trawick lived for a time in the midst of one large South Indian family and sought to understand the multiple and mutually shared expressions of anpu--what in English we call love. Often enveloping the author herself, changing her as she inevitably changed her hosts, this family performed before the young anthropologist's eyes the meaning of anpu: through poetry and conversation, through the not always gentle raising of children, through the weaving of kinship tapestries, through erotic exchanges among women, among men, and across the great sexual boundary. She communicates with grace and insight what she learned from this Tamil family, and we discover that love is no less universal than selfishness and individualism.
"Very important for South Indian Studies, the work marks a break with the dominant interpretive traditions that have been stagnant for some time now."—Stephen A. Tyler