Re: family concepts vs. development?

Mon, 28 Nov 1994 16:07:00 -0500

Bjorn points to the Latin American "notion" of family as a
possible explanatory factor in material development. The
emphasis here is on "extended family" vs. "individual." All
I can say is that the second we begin looking at such factors
as explaining material conditions, we are tugboats to
behavioral nonsense such as that in The Bell Curve.

A very good Latin American anthropologist, Guilermo Battala,
made the following observation re: Euro-American social
science praxis:

"Anthropologists who like to call themselves realists and practical
frequently attempt to raise levels of living without touching the
institutional structures that cause and permit the existence of large
numbers of people who grow more impoverished day by day...

We do not believe that our poverty has a psychological origin, nor
that it results from the ideas and images peculiar to our cultural
tradition, nor that our basic problems can be explained by "
deficiencies in channels of communication;" so we do not believe
that studies on these themes will give us the knowledge that
we fundamentally need to face our problems." (Batalla 1966: 91-2)

This is the view of anthropologies Others, and it seems that the
discipline continues to ignore the reality that Ed Said has
so aptly stated as the position of anthropology viz. subalterns:

"The native point of view, despite the way it has often been
portrayed, is not an ethnographic fact only, is not a hermeneutical
construct primarily or even principally; it is in large measure a
continuing, protracted, and sustained adversarial resistance to
the discipline and the praxis of anthropology..." (Said 1989: 219-

-joe reilly