C.Wright Mills theory of sociological imagination states that it is the quality of mind that enables one to see the connection between personal troubles and social structures. Another way of looking at this is the point of intersection between the individual’s biography and society’s history. It is when personal troubles transcends the invisible boundaries of the individual and evolves into a societal issue that concerns the public.
In this case, individuals such as the Rouen Mayor Pierre Albertini and Catherine Morin-Desailly, deputy mayor of Rouen for culture, are people who feel that their values have being threatened. They viewed the possession of the Maori head, not to mention displaying it to the public, as a sign of disrespect to the culture of the New Zealand people, specifically the Maori tribes. Consequentially, these individuals believed that by answering the call of the Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum, to return the Maori remains, they would be atoning for their forefather’s barbaric actions. As the “Rouen faction” continues to grow in number, the collection of “personal troubles” becomes a public issue that is now fiercely debated at the state level. The French ministry of culture is of the opinion that the head is a cultural work of art and therefore should not be simply returned to their tribes to be “destroyed” in the burial.
There are also two common theories that could shed some light on the French government’s actions from the views of a sociologist – the conflict theory as well as the functionalist theory. One of the main concerns for the ministry of culture was the possibility that upon returning the Maori head, it would trigger a chain of events involving the return of “body part” relics in other French museums. From the conflict theorists point of view, should this happen, it would cause the museums to lose some of its appeal or attraction as a tourist spot and thus result in the loss of an important source of income...
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