cultural survival

Mon, 8 Jan 1996 20:20:10 EST

Brett diamond raises questions that I think about all the time, questions that
I'm sure all of us who care about human rights and dignity, and cultural
survival and empowerment grapple with. I guess that the first thing that I
would say is that we must always seek to find out what the people we work with
would want. we need to engage in dialogue with folk, rather than making
assumptions and imposing our own agendas, however well-intentioned we might be.
with regard to cultural survival, it seems naive to assume that peoples will
remain in a pristine, unchanged state. If appropriate, it would seem that
anthropologists can help folks to synthesize: we can be buffers, hopefully
benign ones, between those that we study and so-called "modernity." Certainly,
and especially if the folks that we study want our help, we should seek to find
out from them how we might be most effective, and if so desired, we can
advocate or help to provide methods and tools for empowerment so people can do
their own advocacy.

The issues are very complex, and each anthropologist will, of course,
become involved in accordance with his/her own ethical sensibilities and