Thomas McCormack (TOMITS@AOL.COM)
Tue, 14 Feb 1995 19:09:54 -0500

It's with some trepidation that I again question this thread but the issues
continue to present some problems.
I do not think the real issues raised in this thread are addressed by
any list of good things that anthropologists have done. Of course
anthropologists are good and honorable people who have done good and
honorable things in service to humankind. I say this in all sincerity but
that is simply not the point. We are not trying to identify the good guys
and/or the bad guys. We are trying to identify how the system, or science,
or discipling of anthropology itself has participated, or does participate,
in the creation of, or the sustenance of, that system which constitutes
To the extent that colonialism constitutes some part of a Western
discoursive regime, or a discoursive regime in its own right, don't those
claims of good deeds that have gbeen set forth constitute part and parcel of
that same discoursive regime, whether intended or not?
Yes, to help in the creation of a medical facility was, and is, a good
thing under the circumstances but doesn't the fact that an anthropologist was
able to accomplish that come as a result of the same discoursive regime which
created the circumstances in the first place?
Why do the people described want anthropologists to come and be with
them as stated in the earlier post? Why couldn't those same people
accomplish the same feat on their own? Ignorance? But doesn't that same
system which denominates them as ignorant denominate anthropologists as
educated, from which anthropologists derive a benefit, with a corresponding
detriment to those under discussion? And doesn't that aspect of the shared
colonialist/anthropological discoursive regime lead to power for
anthropologists at the same time it constitutes the others as powerless?
No, it's not a question of who are the good guys and who are the bad
guys. It's about whether, and how, anthropology made its bid for power and
achieved its emminence, in some manner riding the coattails of colonialism
and whether, and how, its current status in the academy can, or should be,
separated therefrom.