Re: >Decolonizing anthropolo

Anthro Students (Anthro.Students@ANTHROPOLOGY.SU.EDU.AU)
Thu, 2 Feb 1995 23:59:51 -0500

Todd N Nims 2/2/95 wrote.

On Mon, 30 Jan 1995, Biskowski, Marty (G) ANTHRO wrote:
> Proposal #4
> Reparations must be paid for the appropriation and destruction
> of Native American lives, land, and indigenous knowledge.
> I am all in favor of this, under the following conditions:
> (1) Native Americans promote the paying of reparations to those of
> descent (like myself) whose ancestors were denied their language and culture
> by Russians, and were, at various times, trashed by Mongols, Germans, and
> hosts of others.
> (2) Similar reparations be payed to every descendant of other cultural
> groups that have ever been abused by another (including various indigenous
> cultures that were extinguished by contact with other indigenous
> I suppose after embracing these tasks, we might all be clear on the
> difference between seeking justice and seeking advantage. I think my own
> effort at paying reparations for the wrongs done by my ancestors would be
> waive payment of reparations for the wrongs done to them.

> I have to agree. If people want to talk about reparations for>
wrongs done to their people then I have a list a mile long. People may
>as well face it, every group of people or culture on the face of this
>planet has been screwed by somebody else at least once. But if people
>still want the wrongs righted through reparations then Im very willing to
>jump on to the bandwagon. There are a few governments that have lots of>
money floating around and there are a few works of art in the Vatican
>that would make my "pain" so much easier to bear.
>Todd N. Nims
Auburn University, AL

I'm sorry. I see all this as a rather insensitive depoliticisation and
trivialisation of what are, to my mind, valid and important concerns raised
by Robert Johnson. Robert's suggestions were very similar to what Australian
anthro's deal with in respect to indigenous Australians. I simply don't
think it's good enough to respond with. "So you think you suffered, well
tough we all suffered."

Anthropology, as I see it, has a definite responsibility to respond
critically, but with sensitivity to these issues. The future of anthropology
as a discipline depends on it. The head in the sand approach won't work.

Why for instance should native Americans, if you see no need in offering
some sort of compensation for their colonial history, be at constrained by
the demands of US citizenship. Are you going to write it off as a valid
historical process when someone bombs your dept. or will you suddenly decide
that this is inhum,ane and demands reparation,


John Cook.