Re: what to call "them"

Anthro Students (Anthro.Students@ANTHROPOLOGY.SU.EDU.AU)
Wed, 11 Jan 1995 22:39:45 -0500

It seems to me that there is a somewhat problematic skewing of this entire
discussion of what to call "them".

If we acknowledge that the debate surrounding "primitive", is a political
debate about the future and past of anthropology vis a vis colonialism etc
If we also take seriously the suggestions of many analysts (Derrida,
Torgovnick etc etc) that the "primitive" is defined through a process of
negation ( ie not us), that is simultaneously a part of "our" own
totalisation. The problem, then, is not what to call "them", the problem is
the idea of "them" as oppositional. This is to say that the question what do
we now call "primitive" should also include the discussion what do we call
"us". Changing the names of one side of the equation would seem to
contribute relatively little to the overall dillemma.

John Cook