Re: ROBERT THE GOOD is just plain wrong.

Ruby Rohrlich (rohrlich@GWIS2.CIRC.GWU.EDU)
Sun, 12 Feb 1995 20:10:14 -0500

Mike Salovesh: I entered anthropology in my fifties, so I couldn't
possibly have done what you have. But what you have done makes m e
proud to be an anthropologist, which is why I had your posting repeated,
in case anyone missed it the first time. At least one good thing reulted
from Robert Johnson's crap; it let us hear from youon the subject of what
anthropologists are capable of accomplishing.. Now, Let's hear
what he has done besides shoot his mouth off. Thank you, MikeSalovesh,
your posting is what is needed in this parlous time in Chiapas. Ruby

On Sun, 12 Feb 1995, mike salovesh wrote:

> Robert Johnson to the contrary notwithstanding, anthropologists are
> not the cause of what's happening in Chiapas.
> Yes, we have been working in Chiapas for many years. What do the
> communities we have visited have to show for it? Bilingual teachers,
> improved access to medicines and medical care, communication across
> formerly rigid boundaries between communities . . . and access to
> political power beyond the community level.
> No, we didn't do all that by ourselves. But we helped! (The first
> bilingual school in V. Carranza was established by a few of my Indian
> compadres there; I helped them find a qualified teacher. Now one of
> my godsons has grown up to work as a teacher in that school. When he
> was born, it was unheard of for an Indian to dream of that. Working
> with the town's M.D., I helped get improved water supplies and
> prenatal care into the town--and infant and child mortality dropped,
> between 1958 and today, from nearly 50 per cent to about one per cent
> while deaths from umbilical tetanus, infant diarrhea, malaria, and
> other preventable causes dropped to almost zero. The clinic we
> established has been replaced by a full, modern hospital. The first
> statewide movement carrying the label "Zapatista" began in 1974 in
> Venustiano Carranza, and the founders were people who had been using
> me as a source of information about possible courses of action at
> the time.)
> Just to be clear: What has improved where I worked was the work of
> the people of the community. I didn't do it; my compadre the doctor
> didn't do it; God knows the government didn't do it. The people did
> it. But I didn't get in the way, and I responded when they asked
> for what I could do.
> I talk about my community--the place where my heart is--simply
> because I know it better than others. I also know that my colleagues
> working in other towns have had better effects, have done more for
> their friends, than I have.
> Indians figured that out long ago. As the first statewide Indian
> movements began in the 70's, leaders of unstudied community after
> unstudied community asked me and any other anthropologist they could
> how to get anthros to work in their communities. They saw us as a
> resource to be exploited for their good. They were right.
> If it weren't for anthropologists like, e.g., George Collier, among
> many others, the world would not know what is being done to the
> people of Chiapas by an undemocratic and oppressive government.
> It is idiotic to call for anthropologists to get out of Chiapas or
> for archaeologists to stop digging in Mexico. Our presence there,
> our knowledge of what's being done, provides one of the few
> restraints there are on a total bloodbath by a power structure that
> is otherwise in control of the sources of information.
> ROBERT THE GOOD? Hah. He doesn't know thing one about Chiapas that
> isn't based on the work of the anthropologists he would have kept
> from going there in the first place.
> -- mike salovesh <>