Re: Taussig and PMC

Nancy Bowles (nrb6@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Tue, 14 Dec 1993 03:16:15 -0500

ms. nelson,
it seems to me (as I write a paper at 3 am for the above
mentioned monsieur Taussig) that your criticism is more emotional than
constructive (something many critique him for) How can someone deserve
"bashing" (ironically a term with horrid connotations in the gay
community) for simply not saying what you want him to say on the issue of
AIDS. Although I was not at the panel, it is difficult for me to accept
your simplistic rendition of his argument. he "aestheticized" the issue
and had no compassion for those dying of AIDS. Come on.....

One glimpse at his Shamanism work would convince anyone of M. Taussig's
very real understanding of death and his interest in looking at torture,
death, slavery, and yes, AIDS in the perspective of history and yes,
culture. That is what he does, he attempts to represent culture in a very
particular way.
If you want to critique him on what he does do, I will listen. But, if
you want to scorn him for what he doesn't, I will write you off, just as
you seem to have written him off.

No, he is not Ghandi nor Martin Luther King Jr. (nor Martin Luther for that
matter) and his interest in culture may sometimes look abhorently
a-political but, hell, look at what kind of politics he is stiring up in
this otherwise boring little discipline. I've never seen anyone elicit
these kinds of passions from people who(most of the time) have their noses
in books, or better yet, -- in front of "terminal"s.

If you are mad at him for wearing sunglasses and "knowing" that he is
handsome and charismatic than think he is a jerk, nobody cares.
Levi-Strauss was a total jerk but I don't hear anyone calling for
Levi-Strauss bashing. If you want to be taken seriously, critique
his work-- not his attire. Tell me what you think of Shamanism, or the
devil and commodity fetishism,

-- by the way, your question about Bakhtin makes it very apparent that you
haven't looked at either Taussig nor Scheper-Hughes very closely.

for direct references:
Taussig "Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man" pp. 205--on
and Scheper-Hughes "Death Without Weeping" pp.25, 480, and 482.

Nancy Bowles