Re: human rights

Ania Lian (ania@LINGUA.CLTR.UQ.OZ.AU)
Tue, 6 Dec 1994 11:55:53 +1000

On Mon, 5 Dec 1994, Michelle B. Golden wrote:
> I do not support the idea that our role as anthropologists is to promote
> oppression by saying that it is part of the culture (political, economic,
> religious, or otherwise) of those we "study." However, it also isn't
> useful for us to be the great white benign "oppression police," because
> we exist as actors within a global context that defines Western culture
> as more civilized and us as morally superior, a perspective which I do
> not want to promote either. (I'm thinking, for example, of the way in
> which sati--wife-burning in India--was used by the British as an argument
> against Indian self-rule because it "proved" that Indians were not
> civilized.)

Not just as anthropologists but also as humans we should utilise our
achievements and one of them is humanitarism. There might be cultural
differences but if we always play a gentle westerner who hopes not to
offend then we lose perspective and objectivity. There MUST be
objectivity in our lives, and one of them is to appreciate life. We need
a framework for research and so we need a framework for living. Killing,
war, depravation from food are fundamentally wrong as they endanger lives
of us all, and of other creatures.

There might be personal views on rights and personally I would add human
right to communication and transport as basic too, but their lack is not
as fundamental to our existence as the right to live.