Spears, Sorcery and Double-Consciousness- Part III

5 thoughts on “Spears, Sorcery and Double-Consciousness- Part III”

  1. “Or worse yet, an anthropologist.”


    For what it’s worth, my undergraduate experience in anthropology was one that frankly portrayed the history of our field as being deeply rooted in colonialism, and explored the power dynamics that still plague the field, and the ethics standards in place to attempt to alleviate them, and what could be done better.

    So: I’m sorry, and we’re trying to get better!

    However, I *do* firmly believe the study of humanity’s cultures positively contributes to our experience of the world, as humans. Anthropology as a discipline sets about to discover and record what is actually there- a hell of an antidote to popular misconceptions, if done properly.

    What I’m trying to say is that anthropologists can be allies of the groups they study, whether it is a group they personally belong to or not, and (at least at my university), they are training the next generation to be so as well.

    PS Sorry to focus on a relatively small point. To sum up my responses to the rest of the article: “Oh!” “Yes, that!” “Hm. I hadn’t thought of that.” “I seriously need to read some of these books.” So, thank you ❤

    1. Caroline,
      Thanks much for the comment! Ah! In full disclosure, I actually took enough anthro in college just shy of the credits to make it a double major (history won out)! So I too read my Frank Boas reformation of anthropology from its earlier seedy ventures into racial anthropometrics and scientific racism. Big ups to a fellow anthro-head! And you’re quite right—the discipline is very open about its past of colonialism, othering, etc. and does much to remedy these past problems…not to mention spends a great deal of time debunking new farcial theories on biological race, eugenics, etc. Therefore I agree, anthropology done well is an admirable field. And both physical and cultural anthro opened up my eyes tremendously. I didn’t mean to slight the discipline out of hand. Partly I was referring to the way the field *used* to be (hence my relating it to a 19th century British “exolorer.”) At the same time, I was also alluding to some of the unintentional ways othering can take place (as carried out through things like National Geographic) which can slip into reducing non-Western peoples to objects of study; something that because of power dynamics, does not occur in reverse (the very idea of some San peoples following around some New Yorkers and trying to record their ‘customs’ would be priceless to see!)–part of Edward Said’s whole notion of how these disciplines at their root, and in their history, engage in this “othering” process. That doesn’t mean I don’t find the info from anthopologists very useful (its an excellent source–and a fantastic andidote as you say), but some problematics always remain with the Western gaze–even, as you rightly put, when we try to figure out how to do better. In any case, it sometimes has to do with what is your intent. I think someone writing genre fantasy fiction, if they get down to the minutae and detail of an anthropologist in describing non-Western culture, can begin to exoticize that culture–as they do not give that level of detail to Western culture. So in a way I was trying to say (perhaps clumsily), when a person writes about another culture in fiction, try to be a writer, as the job of an anthropologist is something else entirely (and this need not be a slight on modern anthropology). Thanks for bringing this up however, because it’s important that I not over-generalize in my own attempts to talk about over-generalizing!! lol

  2. Screw it I quit!!

    No. seriously this was great. More information for me to digest, ponder, and digest some more. That’s right I bookmarked it.

    If I can be so bold as to add to your list of criticisms, check out Jan Nederveen Pieterse’s White on Black: Images of Africa and Blacks in Western Popular Culture. A breakdown of Africa and Africans in Westrn Media and its varied images.

    But on the real, Dude this is some serious stuff. I may have to put the swords down for a spell and consider the people who wield them. The virtue and vices of those who will inhabit my world.

    1. lol! i just want to be able to create and look back and know i was thoughtful in what i did–even if i make a mistake or two. so neva quit–let’s just get betta…cuz the wu definitely got sumthin the people want to hear. 😉

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