Re: >Blumenbach and Boas

Anthro Students (Anthro.Students@ANTHROPOLOGY.SU.EDU.AU)
Mon, 23 Jan 1995 23:40:19 -0500

Warren Sproule wrote (24/1/95)

>Coming in on the coat-tails of this thread. I imagine that James
>curiousity about the 4 spying anthropologists (1/22) will result in
>identifying them and, as Claude Rains says in 'Casablanca', we'll "round
>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
>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.>

Well I'm afraid I'd have have to agree with Warren on this one. Anthropology
does have a chronic "My shit doesn't smell. Anyway it's someone elses."

Anthropology undoubtedly grew out of the relationship between colonial forms
and indigenous peoples. Whether that's all it is is another matter entirely.
I do however think it's important that we don't enage in to many sacrificial
gestures re the "bad apples", and we acknowledge our own complicity in these
structures. I think the presumed liberalism of anthropology as a discipline
is just that, presumed.


John Cook
Anyone care to surprise me?