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QUO VADIS ANTHROPOLOGISTS - Essay Example

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The professional discipline of anthropology is a relatively new science, born out of the combination between the natural and social sciences, resulting in the “science of humanity” that compares different societies and cultures, but almost always with Western culture as a superior point of reference. …
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QUO VADIS ANTHROPOLOGISTS
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QUO VADIS ANTHROPOLOGISTS

Download file to see previous pages... In this regard, anthropology, ethnology and ethnography are fairly new as academic professions because these disciplines came out of the encounter of Western colonizers in the age of exploration and empire with non-Western colonized peoples in Asia, Pacific, Africa and in the Middle East regions. Anthropological research and field studies not surprisingly take the Western view of the world in trying to make sense out of a sheer diversity of native cultures. Anthropology now must take a stand to stay relevant by seeking remedies to social inequities. Discussion Broadly speaking, anthropology and ethnography had three distinct phases which are salvaging of what is left of native cultures before these are lost forever, the romantic notions of doing some extensive fieldwork by living among the natives and lastly, both the anti- and post-colonial mentality of later generations of anthropologists. Again, almost always, anthropologists had been in most instances apologists (pun intended), for colonialism and imperialism by using an ideology of Manifest Destiny. It is only now that anthropology is trying to make amends, by being proactive instead of reactive, as it had shown in the past, merely recording what has been but not taking action for preserving local societies and cultures with a stronger form of advocacy, afraid of politicizing the profession. On hindsight, it can hardly do otherwise. Anthropologists cannot be mere observers forever; people continue to suffer under newer forms of colonialism. American anthropology largely came about as a result of the settlement of the wild west when much of America was considered as frontier territory, up for grabs by the white settlers in a fantastic land grab from the native American Indians through a justification of using the Manifest Destiny ideology to assuage the guilty conscience of the new settlers. It was an unrelenting kind of campaign to drive out locals from their native lands, which finally came to a head when Ishi is thought to be the last of his kind. In a way, anthropology had failed him because although most of the anthropologists knew he was the last of his tribe, they did not make any concerted effort to revive his tribal culture when the Yahi language is somewhat related to other native dialects and they could have encouraged him to get married, produce some offspring and perpetuate his tribe. It is a sad commentary anthropology was not able to save Ishi or his tribe; he went the way of the dodo (a flightless bird), an extinct species. Anthropologists could have saved him from the fate of the dodo, but instead, they were so happy to have found a supposedly fine specimen of a real wild Indian they proceeded to study him and his myths, language, and other cultural aspects of his soon-to-be extinct tribe, collecting additional artifacts for a museum (Riffe & Roberts 1995). The effort to drive out the native American Indians was relentless and ruthless, resulting in massacres because of an uneven fight using bows and arrows versus rifles and cannons. It is a culmination that resulted in the few remaining survivors forced to transfer into reservations. The discipline of anthropology did not try to mitigate this brutal aspect of the war of pacification but instead was just content to collect some samples and specimens to be displayed in the museums. A white anthropologist would surely have a hard time doing some fieldwork by living among the Indians as the natives were mostly hostile, like that back in Kenya (Evans-Pritchard 1976:252). The same pattern continues today in which some people and races ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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