Re: Cultural Survival?

Keith Dever (kdever@CALSTATELA.EDU)
Mon, 8 Jan 1996 18:57:50 -0500

It is tempting to participate with and protect the group you survey. I am
not sure that that should be the ultimate goal of ethnology or anthropology.
At the risk of seeming argumentative, I thing the responsibility should not
lie with the anthropologist to protect the culture. It should be to inform
the world at large and the world at large should make that decision and so
act. The anthropolist, IMO, should act as a recorder and interpretter of
behavior. The burden is not the anthropologist's to protect; it is the

I realize Star Trek's "Prime Directive" is problematic at best, but the
anthropologist should inform the world about groups, not defend them.
Culture's adapt to changing environments; are anthropologists so all-knowing
that they can recognize which is a healthy (re: the individual) or not?
Rights should be protected but by lawyers and politicians (risky, huh) and we
should inform them.

My 2% of a dollar,
Keith Dever