Re: family concepts vs. development? (fwd)

Cliff Sloane (cesloane@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU)
Tue, 29 Nov 1994 16:30:01 -0600

This is actually from Bjorn, not Cliff; he's not subscribed yet.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 1994 16:43:07 -0500
From: Bjorn Conrad Fry <>
Subject: Re: family concepts vs. development? (fwd)


>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.

PROPAGANDA TECHNIQUE: Association (credibility lost or gained)

The Bell Curve -> associated with the -> the submission by Bjorn Conrad Fry
and his ideas on family & development

Now I haven't read The Bell Curve, but from what I've heard, it's a study
of human intelligence and its societal implications and not about cultural
patterns or behavior and how they might influence societies and
development. I guess I'm going to have to read the book now.

Are you really serious when you basically declare that any correlation
between cultural behavior and development is nonsense?

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

The last time I checked, Hispanic culture in America (North and South) is,
among other things, also Euro-American culture. Am I wrong that Spain and
Portugal, and their exported cultures, are of European origin too? Are you
or anyone else suggesting that "Euro-American social science praxis" is
some goose stepping monolithic movement?
>"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)

If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, it is that the
total exclusion or exclusive inclusion of any single external factor that
might influence the human condition is fallacious at best and agenda driven
at worst. In either case, open and free debate is not just advisable but
probably called for.

BTW, haven't we learned anything since Batalla wrote those words way back
in 1966?

What ever happened to the concept that an idea that can not stand on its
own in the face of rational and reasonable scrutiny deserves to be
sacrificed at the altar of knowledge.

>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

Are you saying that Ed Said was responding to an identical view of families
and development in the Third World? I doubt it. Is this the same
associative propaganda technique (see above) in action again? No, it
couldn't be.

I signed onto this list to discuss issues not to squelch those I disagree
with. Maybe we can bump this up a notch or two. How about it people?

Let it be said, once again, that most of what is wrong, and of
what is most perfectable in this world, is located between our
own ears. If we don't first start living our own lives to the
fullest, as individuals, in just fashion, and as empowered exam-
ples, instead of languishing in the addictive maelstrom of blame,
dependency, and its powerlessness, there is little hope for us.

Bjorn Conrad Fry - American
Bethesda, Maryland