Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jack Goody on the Other

Some sound advice from anthropologist/historian Jack Goody:

"We need always to be on our guard against the misrepresentation of others, whether of the Oriental other or of the other next door (or even the other in our own house).  The total avoidance of misrepresentation may well be beyond our capacities.  But that is no reason for withdrawing from the task, especially since the process of representing the other will continue, whatever we think or do about it.  School children will be taught history and adults will make judgments about other cultures.  It is surely our task in the Universities and elsewhere (or one of our tasks) to make certain those products and those judgments are the best that it is within our power to make: not to conclude, as some have done, that the way out is to throw up one's hands in despair or to take refuge in the indulgence of frankly fictional or personalized accounts.  That may be a way out; it is no way forward." 

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