African Genocide Explored I - May 19 (L01)

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21 May 2011

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African Genocide Explored
-Mass violence in Africa – violence unimaginable to anyone
-We are Outsiders to the situation b/c we are emotionally and rationally detached
-Age-old ethnic tensions and tribalism reasons used often that Anthropologists find hard to believe
-These excuses leave us believing that those people are fundamentally different from us
oViolence justified by the actions of the natives (will do anything to maintain their ethnic identity)
-Stuck in a situation in which humanity is divided
oYou vs. crazy people w/o empathy, who are stuck in the past, traditional
-Anthropologists accept the premise that people are fundamentally similar more than they are different from
each other. There are differences but we are a unified species, more the same than not
-Within these situations, anthropologists find what the common human impulse is, what kind of contexts,
conditions could’ve driven one to act in that certain way.
-Spatial / geographic contextwhats happening at the same time, in the immediate vicinity
-Historical contextpast events that lead to that present moment in time
oBroad space, deep timewhat anthropologists examine regarding a situation
-Figure out causality
oProximate and ultimate causes
-Proximate >> spatial context: causes that makes a decision possible; stuff in the immediate area
-Ultimate >> historical context: what happened in the past
oE.g., having breakfast
oProximate: time you woke up, time for cooking, availability of ingredients, knowing how to cook
oUltimate: learned that eggs are edible, that they are breakfast food, what constitutes a breakfast food,
the food provision system (agricultural, economic aspects, etc.)
-Availability of tools of violenceproximate cause of mass violence
-Ultimate causes are causes that made decisions thinkable, logical
oWhat made it immediately available, what made it thinkable
-Africa = tribalism, violence, poverty (what it means to a normal person)
-African mess >> European colonialism (caused by)
oPeople tend to dehumanize Africans (the Other’)
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