About Anthropology Department
Anthropology as a department was set up in the year 1947 under the initiative of the Late Gopinath Bordoloi. His vision was to have all round development of different tribes and communities of Assam for which he felt the necessity to have discipline-study of their problems. On his request Prof. K.P. Chattopadhaya, the Head of the department of Calcutta University prepared a syllabus for the ISc. Course and the department of Anthropology came into being on 15th December 1947 with 24 students in the first year class.
Late Professor Mohendra Nath Saloi was the founder Head of the department and spent a long 22 years as a devoted teacher of the college and nurtured the department to give it its present status. In his own words, ‘At the beginning there was nothing in this department but furniture.’ He took great pain to obtain import licence to import laboratory materials from abroad. The affiliation up to the ISc standard was obtained only with effect from 1948-49. Among the earliest students, mention may be made of Smti Saroj Dutta, Prof. B.M Das, Prof Birendranath Dutta, Shri Gunabhi Choudhury. Smti Saroj Dutta was the first student to receive letter marks in Anthropology in I.Sc examination in 1950. Prof M.N. Saloi was the only teacher in the department till Dr. B.M. Das – the reputed Anthropologist, joined the department as lecturer in 1953. He however, left the department two years later to join Anthropology department at Gauhati University, Guwahati. The number of teachers in the department increased when Prof. Late Sashidhar Goswami and Prof. Hari Prasad Mishra joined the department in 1956. Honours course in Anthropology was introduced in Cotton College in the year 1959.
Prof. T.C Sharma, the renowned anthropologist and archaeologist also started his service career in this department. Prof. M.N Phukan the former head of the department of Anthropology, Dibrugarh University also was among the teaching staff of this department. After Prof. M.N.Saloi who retired in December 1969, Prof. Sashi Dhar Goswami became the Head of department till 1987. After him Prof. H.P. Mishra had served as head of the department till 1990. In 1991, Mrs. Aditi Barua took the charge of the Head of department. Mrs. Barua retired on 2003 and Mrs. Bandana Dutta, took over the charge of Head of the department in 2004. She retired in 2007 and Dr. Jonali Devi took the charge of the Head of the department since June 2007.
June 2018 saw the up-gradation of the college and merging of CCSU into Cotton University. Thus Dr. Upala Barua at present is the Head of the department under the new administration.
The department houses Prof B.M. Das’ personal collection of books, journals etc which were donated to the department by his family. Besides, a huge number of books personally collected by Prof. Sashidhar Goswami have also been donated to the department. Apart from the departmental collections, these personal collections add to the existing availability of resources.
The Anthropological Museum, housed at present in the BKB Building in the University, had grown out of the specimens collected over the decades since the inception of the Department. In the year 1992, the present location was allotted by the then Principal of Cotton College, Dr. Anil Kumar Goswami. The Museum covers all the three broad subdivisions of Anthropology, namely Biological or physical Anthropology, Prehistoric anthropology and social-cultural anthropology. The Museum proudly displays rich and rare ethnographic materials from North East India along with some original pre-historic tools and potteries. Some of the early medieval materials that were unearthed within the Cotton Campus during 1991-91 in an excavation (conducted by State Archaeology Department, Govt of Assam where students of the Department of Anthropology, Cotton University also took active part) have also been attracting attention from students, visitors and scholars. Altogether there are 577 specimens displayed which are divided into 14 themes.
Aims and Objectives:
The department focuses to facilitate, develop and promote integrative thinking in both teaching and research highlighting the holistic spirit of Anthropology. . The department also aims to provide analytical skills and develop critical thinking in all the major branches of Anthropology. While working and conducting research, the department hopes to contribute in socially-relevant areas, bringing about closer communities ties and an understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity both locally and globally.