Primitive vs. Modern and Couple in a Cage

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9 Apr 2011

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Lecture Six: ‘Primitive vs. ‘Modern’ – March 8, 2011
Primitive vs. 'Modern' Culture
Terms should be questioned
Idea of cultural progression is ethnocentric and doesn't allow for
understanding of the context of cultures
Modern vs. Contemporary
Modern means what is happening 'now'
oAnthropology Modern refers to a certain kind of culture that refers to
cultures different than traditional cultures (social organization, belief
oUse the word contemporary for the colloquial meaning of Modern
Linear Time
Conception of time in the Modern world
Not cross-cultural idea
Time is both Linear and limited in direction (only moves forward)
oIdea that we are moving towards some sort of goal
oTime is then understood in terms of progress
Pre-19th century: Time was under the direction of religion
Started with creation goes towards an end
World was about 4000 years old: Ancient times,
Midieval times, modern times
Post-19th century: Time under direction of science
Introduction of pre-history
Implies non-literacy because history (in this society)
must be written down because that means it can't change.
When Europeans first encounters those without literacy
they were put into the group of the pre-historic; they didn't, then,
have history
Understood to be living ancestors or living fossils
Problems with 'Primitive' Views
View individuals as stuck in the past, not our contemporaries
Opens the door to colonialism and the 'I'm helping them' mentality
oBelieve we need to change them in order for them to be fully
actualized human beings
oDenies the validity and history of these groups
The Couple in a Cage
Based on a performance art exhibit in 1992 that traveled around the world
Artists were trying to be a satirical protest about the 500th anniversary of
Columbus' "Discovery" of the "New World"
Dressed up as "Natives" and were exhibited in a cage in museums around the
world, something that actually happened to Aboriginal peoples
So many people thought it was real and many were outraged at this
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