Re: Blumenbach and Boas

Warren Sproule (Warren.Sproule@SOCIOL.UTAS.EDU.AU)
Tue, 24 Jan 1995 13:23:38 +0200

Coming in on the coat-tails of this thread. I imagine that James Benthall's
curiousity about the 4 spying anthropologists (1/22) will result in
identifying them and, as Claude Rains says in 'Casablanca', we'll "round up
the usual suspects". What better way to preserve academic integrity and
neutrality than to suggest that anthropology per se is not *normatively*
implicated in political and military agendas? That way, we can cling to our
sense of outrage and shock when time and again, as Richard Spear reports
(1/23), a few rotten apples supposedly spoil the barrel. My own discipline
is bedevilled by the myth of what Michael Mann calls a "pacific
transnational sociology", and I'd be surprised if anthropology isn't dogged
by a similarly useful fiction - ie, the cosy illusion that anthropology is
on the whole divorced from (or opposed to) covert/overt governmental
nastiness and armed forces naughtiness.

Anyone care to surprise me?