Re: a dissident voice

Fri, 10 Feb 1995 16:37:04 EST5EDT

Regarding Mr. Johnson's response to my long post in response to one
of his....

> The issue is not one of semantics.

Since when was the concept of constructive criticism one of
semantics? I always thought of it as pretty much one of
practicality, if you really are interested in getting support for
your point of view.

> Would it not be constructive for anthropology to divest itself of
> its continuing collusion in the processes and justifications for
>the retention of the lands and heritage of Native Americans obtained
> through murder, treaties obtained at the point of a gun or
>starvation, or commercial appropriation?

Not particularly, because government doesn't listen all that closely
to anthropologists even if they like what they hear.

> Anthropology will remain a marginal discipline as long as it
>remains an integral part of the rationalizations of the continuing
>injustices against Native Americans and other indigenous peoples.

And you think government, business, and industry will pay MORE
attention to anthropology after that is fixed?

>> I have been thinking
>> long and hard lately about my own position as an anthro grad
>>student. I find myself sceptical of *everything* I read, critical
>>of that of which I am sceptical, and becoming cynical about the
>>ability of anybody to say anything meaningful outside of
>>particular contexts.
> This describes the beginnings of a process of consciousness which
>many within anthropology are experiencing. My proposals were not
>cast into a void.

Clearly they were not cast into a void. People don't get angry about
things they don't care about. But in any event, my debilitating
scepticism makes me no less sceptical about your proposals than about
anything anybody else has had to say. The "beginning of...[my]
consciousness" doesn't serve you any more than it serves the
discipline of anthropology.

>> Maybe the problems you have identified
>> stem from a contextual specificity of anthropology, which prevents
>>us from engaging in meaningful dialogue with alternative points of
> It is one of the contextual specificities my proposals wish to
>address and eliminate.

Then you have demonstrated them to be no better than that which
you seek to eliminate.

It seems you're less interested in decolonising anthropology than
with replacing the existing colonialism with a colonialism more to
your liking. Wouldn't it make more sense to try to find ways to
work together?

Rebecca Lynn Johnson
Dept. of Anthropology
University of South Carolina