Re: Corruption in Anthropology

Robert Johnson (johnsorl@COLORADO.EDU)
Mon, 11 Sep 1995 06:15:10 -0600

On Mon, 11 Sep 1995, Tosca Zraikat EDA wrote:

> To R. Johnson
> your open letter regarding desecration of sites, like many of your
> posting, both on this and the anthro list, raises important issues
> that should be addressed. May I share with you some thoughts on some
> of your postings? First, I think by relating each issue back to
> yourself, you detract from the issues of injustice and force readers
> to consider them in association with your complaints and vitriolic,
> justified though they may be. Native Americans have enough
> prejudice, injustice and institutionalized antagonism to deal with
> without having to cope with the burden of your problems with various
> people and institutions. Second, in associating each informative
> piece and relevant comment with yourself, you seem to be "riding" on
> the back of these crucial issues, using these concerns and people's
> interest in them for your own purposes.
> If I am being unjust, then I stand corrected. I just wanted you to
> know that this is how it looks to me. I read your postings for the
> information of value they contain. Others might ignore them, losing
> this information, because of your diatribes. Please consider keeping
> your personal issues separate from issues of relevance to others,
> particularly from issues that are of relevance to the people whose
> name you so indiscriminately invoke.
> Thanks, Tosca

This is the usual excuse used in an "end-around" run to de-legitimize
anyone who speaks against injustice. All of humankind is morally
obligated to speak-out against injustice. All of humankind is
obligated to fight injustice. You're stating that I "indiscriminately
invoke" indigenous peoples, is the usual subtle racist refrain
"invoked" to silence a voice against injustice. You think that by
mentioning the opposition, the threats, the censorship, the attempts
to intimidate me through my university faculty and administration
is posturing, rather than the "standard operating procedure" one
receives when confronting those who are at the bottom of racism,
injustice, and genocide. Camille Paglia is right in saying you're
the type of "academic" who has little knowledge of how the real world
works, either that, or you effect this ignorance because someone
dares question "anthropology" and its complicity in cultural
destruction. This is a process of generalized "dumbing-down."

You say I raise important issues that "need" to be addressed, yet
you're more focused on me.

I think your too damn afraid that I'm becoming anthropology's
"rock star," rather than a voice widely read, who induces questioning
from your students, and efforts to learn more of what is silenced
and unspoken in "applied" anthropology and its new alliances with
the World Bank and corporate greed.

Robert Johnson