educating the public

David Wm. Cavers (CAVERS@SSCL.UWO.CA)
Wed, 15 Jun 1994 16:37:04 -0400

A few people have made comments that anthropologists are not looking to
educating the public, and should be. What about David Mayberry-Lewis'
TV mini series on why we should all be "tribal". I'm not sure what
repercussions this has had for him personally, however I don't think I've
come across an anthropologist who has seen this and hasn't shuddered.
Personally I think that one of the things that is important for
anthropology to disseminate is information that goes against the standard
response to unrest in non-western countries, that is, identifying it as
tribalism and therefore explained through a mystifying term. For example
recently I watched numerous television stations report the same news on
Rwanda, using Tutsi vs. Hutu tribalism as the simple explanation for
what is happening there. Despite lots of gorry details and anechdotal
stories, none of these attempted to look at the historical and structural
problems within Rwanda that the latest violence is a result of.
Not to be too naive about what is important to the public and
television stations, it appears to me that if providing an understanding
of such events as the violence in Rwanda is a priority for "the news",
then perhaps anthropologists would be useful for them. They might even get
better ratings because people might be interested in hearing something other
than the same news over and over and over without being given the slightest
clue as to what is behind it. Okay so that's doubtful, but anyway I think it
would be good for anthropologists who are knowledgable on particular areas
that become important in the news intermitantly to attempt to get the media
to use their knowledge.


How about a weekly show: "anthropology of the hotspots of the week".
This week:
American culture and the Carrigan - whatshername affair;
Colonialism, Ethnicity and Rwanda.
Who were the Iraqis?
What is a Palestinian?
Ethnicity and the history of Yugoslavia.
Is ethnicity funny clothing?
War lords? and clan politics in Somalia and Somaliland.
Are Muslim's all the same?