Anthropology Books for UPSC: Best Guide

Anthropology Books for UPSC: Best Guide

Are you planning to take up Anthropology as your optional in the UPSC exam? If you have chosen Anthropology as your optional subject for UPSC, then you are definitely wise. Anthropology is one of the safest optional subjects a UPSC aspirant can opt for. This is largely owing to the selective syllabus of this optional paper. This means that once you attain conceptual clarity of the prescribed syllabus you can easily score maximum. 

Rather than doing multiple question papers from the previous years’ question bank, you should first familiarize yourself with the UPSC Anthropology syllabus. This is step one in procuring the best Anthropology Books for UPSC. Further, you must choose the materials for each topic carefully. If you’re wondering what books to read to ace the UPSC Anthropology exam, you’ve come to the right place.

This list below contains the names of all the essential books on the subject. Ideally, you should read the whole syllabus. There are various anthropology books available in the market that cover the entire optional syllabus. But which one should be selected? You can pick one or two of the books given below. You can refer to other books when time permits or when you need more information on a particular topic.

This article will tell you about the best anthropology books to be used for the UPSC examination. Read on for the complete book list for UPSC Anthropology. 

Suggested UPSC Anthropology Paper I Books

You’ll see that the majority of the questions from the prior years have been repeated several times. Thus, the previous years’ questions are very helpful from an exam point of view. Questions from the Previous Years’ Question Bank are also helpful in identifying the structure of the questions that are asked in the exam.

We have assembled a selection of UPSC Mains Anthropology study books to assist you with your optional preparation for the civil services provided by the UPSC. Therefore, knowing the finest guidebooks for the UPSC CSE test is worthwhile.

Important Anthropology Books for UPSC

Physical Anthropology- By P. Nath

A book that is highly recommended for exam preparation and which provides all the information and subjects pertinent to the particular subject.

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P.Nath- Physical Anthropology

Anthropology Simplified By Dr. Vivek Bhasme 

  1. This book covers the whole syllabus for Anthropology Papers 1 and 2 in a question-and-answer format.
  2. It offers ready-to-write excellent solutions.
  3. Includes every subject and subtopic in the syllabus.
  4. This book includes sample answers to questions from the last ten years.
  5. Tips for getting prepared for the anthropology subject and producing quality answers. Maps, flowcharts, and diagrams to enhance the responses are also included in this book. 
  6. 10 practice tests in the UPSC format for self-evaluation (6 section-wise and 4 comprehensives).
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Anthropology Simplified-Vivek Bhasme

An Introduction to Social Anthropology By D. N. Majumdar & T. N. Madan

It appears that anthropology is quickly taking up its rightful place in India, and this has led to challenges where none had previously existed, at least not to the same degree.

One of the biggest issues is the lack of an appropriate primer that would provide a thorough account of the topic for beginners, students, and enthusiastic general readers in as accessible and non-technical a language as possible, illustrated by examples primarily from Indian tribes but occasionally from other cultures. Hence, this book.

An Introduction to Social Anthropology by D. N. Majumdar & T. N. Madan

An Introduction to Anthropological Thought (Theories) – By Makhan Jha

This book is simple to grasp for people who are preparing for Anthropology independently. Because it is concise and easier to understand, it is good for understanding the concepts of anthropological theories. 

An Introduction to Anthropological thought (Theories) – by Makhan Jha

Anthropology Book List: Paper I

Anthropology Book List – Part I (Upto Seven Topics)

1. An Introduction to Anthropology by Beals & Hoijer 7. An Introduction to Social Anthropology by Majumdar & Madan
2. Indian Anthropology by Nadeem Hasnain 8. An Introduction to Social Cultural Anthropology by Vaid
3. Cultural Anthropology by Herskovits9. Other Cultures by Beattie 
4. An Introduction to Anthropology by Haviland10. The World of Man by Honigman
5. Cultural Anthropology by Gaya and Pandey11. Meetings with the Other (on Fieldwork Techniques) by Abhik Ghosh 
6. Basic Concepts in Sociology and Anthropology by Philipos Petros Gile 12. An Introduction to Social-Cultural Anthropology (in Hindi) by U.S. Mishra

Also Read: UPSC Exam Pattern

Anthropology Book List – Part II

1. An Introduction to Physical Anthropology by Stein & Rowe8. Anthropological Thought (in Hindi) by U.S. Misra 
2. Forensic Anthropology by Surender Nath9. Physical Anthropology & Human Genetics by Shukla & Rastogi
3. Nutritional Anthropology by Johnston Franchise10. Origins of Man by B. Janusch
4. Nutritional Anthropology by B Jensen11. Evolution of Genus Homo by Virender Kumar 
5. Cultural Anthropology by Herskovits12. Rise of Anthropological Theory by M. Harris
6. Human Biology by Harrison13. Booklet published by Jawahar Publishers
7. Jaivik Manashashtra (in Hindi) by Vaid & Pandey

Suggested IAS Anthropology Books for Paper II

1. Indian Society, Social Change book by NCERT8. Tribal Cultures of India by Vidyarthi & Rai
2. The Wonder that was India by A.L. Basham9. Indian Tribes by R.C. Verma
3. An Outline of Indian Prehistory by Bhattacharya D.K10. Tribal India by N. Hasnain
4. Glimpses of Indian Culture by Vidyarthi11. Who Cares for Tribal Development (Hindi & English) by Vaid
5. Social Change in Modern India by Srinivas12. Reservation for Backward Classes a Perspective by Sagar Preet
6. Modernisation of Indian Tradition by Y. Singh13. Indian Anthropology by N. Hasnain
7. Caste in India & Other Essays by Srinivas14. Bharatiya Samajik Vichar (in Hindi) by Dr. Ravi Prakash Pandey


Conceptual clarity of understanding is necessary to produce quality answers in the civil service exam. There is no need to read each and every book from cover to cover listed here for Anthropology.

However, you should keep the optional syllabus and previous year’s questions in mind while you are preparing. This will make the process of studying relevant chapters of Anthropology much easier. 

Throughout your studies, you should keep up with current affairs in the field of Anthropology. From new fossil discoveries to a new government scheme to support PVTGs, keep abreast of what’s happening in the world of Anthropology. It’s important to know the latest developments in the subject to ensure your success. Remember to give adequate time to practice diagrams. As the scope for diagram questions is simple, straightforward, and gradable in the exam.

Don’t forget Anthropology is a scoring subject, even for absolute beginners. All you need is to prepare well for the civil services examination.

FAQs Related To Anthropology Optional – UPSC CSE

What is the main focus of the Anthropology subject?

The study of humans, including their cultural, social, and biological aspects, is the main focus of anthropology.

Who can opt for Anthropology optional paper for UPSC CSE?

When choosing Anthropology for the civil services exam as an elective study, candidates with Biology as their undergraduate topic/subject or even doctors have the advantage. However, any candidate who has a strong desire to learn about this topic can succeed in this optional. The most important stage is to first study and comprehend the UPSC Mains Anthropology syllabus because it is crucial to determine one’s interest before continuing with the optional preparation.

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