Anthropology Notes and Queries

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Ethnographic showcases are a way of collecting and displaying the world "for amusement and edification" (Corbey, 342). Human beings were actually being collected and were "presented as 'different' and forced to behave that way" (Corbey, 344). These people who were put on show were wrongfully taken out of their homes and moved into a place where they were seen as savages. The viewers were practicing ethnocentrism, probably unknowingly, by being centered around their own ethnicity and culture and thinking that these people on display were not like them when in reality we are all human beings and have similarities. Like it says in The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man, "anything one group of people is inclined toward doing is worthy of respect by another" (Geertz, 44). Thankfully, after the 1930's, people began to see that "criticism of imperialism and racism increased, and ethnographic shows were found objectionable on moral grounds" (Corbey, 358). But this was not the end of degradation in the world. To this day people perform acts of racism and putting down other cultures making them seem like it's okay. The article The Mascot Slot, claims that, "in 'playing Indian,' athletes, sports franchises, and fans allocate Native Americans to a unique and allegorical form of cultural citizenship" (Strong, 80). In this case, making a Native American caricature a team's mascot is dehumanizing the group of people. By including "an iconic feature identifying the caricature as a particular kind of primitive 'other'" (Strong, 80), is to stereotype an ethnicity. It is definitely hard not to do this sort of thing but "the attempt to do so is important" (Metcalf, 11).

The Is It A Man? reading by Bradford and Blume talks about Ota Benga, who is human, being placed in a cage next to a monkey in the New York Zoological Park. According to this quote from Which Bodies Matter?, "'The idea one people has of another […] is always mediated by the social context...