Irawati Karve

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Irawati Karve
Born December 15, 1905
Died August 11, 1970
Residence Pune, India
Occupation anthropologist

Irawati Karve (Devanagari: इरावती कर्वे; December 15, 1905 – August 11, 1970) was an Indian anthropologist, educationist, and a writer from Maharashtra, India. She was India's first women anthropologist, at a time when anthropology and sociology were still developing as university disciplines.


Karve was born in 1905. She attended a girls boarding school in Pune from age 7.[1] Karve received a master's degree in sociology from Mumbai University in 1928 and a doctorate in anthropology from a university in Berlin, Germany in 1930.

Karve served for many years as the head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Deccan College, Pune (University of Pune). She presided over the Anthropology Division of the National Science Congress held in New Delhi in 1947. She wrote in both Marathi and English on topics pertaining to sociology and anthropology, as well as on nonscientific topics.


The following are some of Karve's books:

  • Hindu Society - an interpretation (1961)

(It is a study of Hindu society based on data which Karve had collected in her field trips, and her study of pertinent texts in Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit. In the book, she discussed the pre-Aryan existence of the caste system in Hinduism, and traced its development to its present form.)

  • Kinship Organization in India (1953)

(It is a study of various social institutions in India.)

  • Maharashtra -Land and People (1968)

(It describes various social institutions and rituals in Maharashtra.)

  • Yuganta

(This study of the main characters of the Mahabharata treats them as historical figures and uses their attitudes and behavior to gain an understanding of the times in which they lived. Karve wrote the book first in Marathi, and later translated it into English. The book won a Sahitya Academy Award in 1968.)

  • Paripurti (in Marathi)
  • Bhovara (in Marathi)
  • Amachi Samskruti (in Marathi)
  • Samskruti (in Marathi)
  • Gangajal (in Marathi)


Karve was the daughter-in-law of Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve. Her husband Dinkar was an educator and a Principal of Fergusson College. A son, Ānand, of Dinkar and Irawati, runs an NGO in Pune called Arti. Her youngest daughter Gauri Deshpande was a well known Marathi writer of short stories and poems. Her eldest daughter Jai Nimbkar who lives in Phaltan is also a writer of novels and short stories. Jai's daughter Nandini Nimbkar is a distinguished alumna of University of Florida, USA. Priyadarshini Karve, Anand's daughter has been working on developing biomass energy technologies and their dissemination in rural areas since 1991.


  1. ^ Uberoi, Patricia; Sundar, Nandini; Deshpande, Satish (2008). Anthropology in the East: Founders of Indian sociology and Anthropology. Calcutta; New York: Seagull Books. p. 367. ISBN 9781905422777.