ANSWER TO BEA MEDICINE
Robert Johnson (johnsorl@COLORADO.EDU)
Thu, 13 Jul 1995 03:53:54 -0600
Recently in the Society for Applied Anthropology Newsletter
Vol. 6, No.2 May 1995 Bea Medicine wrote:
TO THE EDITOR
I dropped my membership and have not been to a SfAA meeting
since 1990. So What, you say? I attended the meeting in Albuquerque.
I was somewhat astounded at what I perceived to be a
mean-spirited, or perhaps, mere discourtesy at the Keynote address
and the business meeting. I did not detect the former
spirited-but-interesting interaction and debates and discussion of
motions. Perhaps it is a function of aging or life as a reservation
recluse. But what happened to the camaraderie and good cheer of
I would suggest that the answer lies in a book by psychologist
Dr. Marimba Ani titled YURUGU which states:
European culture is constructed in such a way that successful
survival within it discourages honesty and directness and
encourages dishonesty and deceit--the ability to appear to be
something other than what one is; to hide one"s 'self,' one's
motives and intent."
People who are duped by others and related to a projected image
are considered fools or 'country bumkins.' Hypocrisy, in this
way, becomes not a negative personality trait, not immoral or
abnormal behavior, but it is both expected and cultivated.
Bea, I would suggest that what Marimba Ani says concerning
individuals and "culture" is also true of organizations. I know
this is the truth concerning the Society for Applied Anthropology.
Knowing you to be the last person that they could dupe, those
who are "handling" matters for Applied Anthropology today just chose
to ignore you or the possible concerns that you could raise.
I found your observations to be standard operating procedure in
many forums especially those concerning "ethics" and all those
who presented projects backed by the World Bank, "development"
schemes, or "do-gooder" projects "for" indigenous peoples.
The height of hypocrisy was the main awards ceremony in which
the individual who wrote the "ethics" statement for the World
Bank was "honored."
Applied Anthropology today is going "big business." It is going
to lend its "theory" and methodology to the further transformation
of this planet to a New World Order of resource and human
exploitation. It will lend itself to the apologetics and
"transformations" of "process" and "change" brought about by
"new Technologies" and "infrastructures" and "understandings."
AS a methodology it will provide the analytic tools to effect
a "smother" transition to the perceived "inevitabilities" of the
future while providing the facades of "political-correctness"
that will dupe the "white liberals," their "of color"
collaborators, and their "bright young" prodigies. And God help
you if you dare question how reality works out, the fawning over
the genocidal murderers for "access," the "case study" industries,
the "intellectual property rights" facades, or those hypocrites
who are further "institutionalizing" the discipline to receive their
hundredth award, "peer" recognition, and hand wringing hopes that
if they shut their eyes real hard, push their "inspirational" agendas,
and further ignore the physical and cultural genocides they've learned
to "work" among that somehow everythings going to be "alright."
Besides, those of us in anthropology will be "employed" in the
"shrinking" human "resources" markets of the "future."
I think what you experienced is the developing "bums rush" that
The Society for Applied Anthropology is giving those of past
association as well as those of us who believe in a Liberation
Anthropology that they are unable to silence and bullshit.
As I echoed the words of the Zapatista freedom fighters for the peoples
of humankind in answer to the blind "facilitators" and deliberate
"business-persons" of the anthropology of the New World Order, NAFTA,
GATT et al:
WE [the people of humankind] are not anthropological objects,
nor do we live in [the eco-tourist zoos] of Jurassic Park.