Re: Decolonizing Anthropology

Cliff Sloane (cesloane@MAROON.TC.UMN.EDU)
Sat, 4 Feb 1995 15:33:47 -0600

> The very fact that people respond in a sometimes defensive way to
> Johnson's "agonizing confessionals" (I would say they're a little too
> terse to be agonizing or confessional) is a good indication that since
> Boas, anthropologists have partly failed at "decolonizing." Although
> broad, his ideas are sensible.

You are witnessing someone in the middle of changing his mind.

Alx's post above makes stunning sense. It recalls the flame war over Ruby
Rohrlich's post re: feminism and language.
I must admit that, upon reflection, a disturbingly large number of the
responses to Robert Johnson seem inclined to deny or dismiss the
CONTEMPORARY power imbalance between American Indians and the society in
which they live. Likewise, many of the replies to Ruby (certainly not
all!) attempted to dismiss the semiotics behind her position, that
language was reflective of the real issue, a power imbalance.
While the positions have a lot of holes, they are efforts to address a
serious problem. The responses, I am coming to believe, should take that
underlying position more seriously.

Still thinking,