Influence of Colonization Politics on Modern Field-work… Essay

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Influence of Colonization Politics on Modern Field-work…

Hell-bent on expansion, the British Empire insisted on the exhaustive domination of one people over another, and in doing so, fostered hatred and friction between cultures in the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries. Cultural friction has presented a large disruption in the anthropological relationship between observer and participant in historical fieldwork, and moreover, “the bulk of social and cultural anthropological field work has been done in colonial settings” (Cohn, 1). The colonization politics of the British Empire instilled severe prejudices among people and frustrated anthropological encounters of this time and still chase after our conceptions of anthropology
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The Empire’s unrelenting appetite for wealth ignored personal experience; it rendered white men biased and broken, even as each man struggled to retain self-integrity. Angry feelings of displacement and violence were “…normal by-products of imperialism…” for Orwell and other envoys of the British Empire in India (Orwell, 2). Forced compromises between a man’s integrity and the Empire’s fabricated realities birthed racism and prejudice. Orwell was “…stuck between [his] hatred of the empire [he] served and [his] rage against the evil-spirited little beasts who tried to make [his] job impossible” (Orwell, 2). In supporting the needs of the Empire, Orwell fed the hatred between European culture and that of India. Thousands of Indians burned against him and people of his skin color. Wrought from greed, the mindset of the ‘superior’ white man poisoned the entire Empire. Enter an anthropologist into this den of contempt.

Prejudice is indeed a powerful poison in anthropology. When respectful understanding between cultures is replaced with ideas of ethnic hierarchy, truth is distorted, as evidenced in Gould’s Mismeasure of Man. Furthermore; societies built on unjust domination refuse to yield to progressive change. Even scientists, figures traditionally obedient to objective truth and study, bend over backwards to sustain the tenants of racism.

Fruitful encounters between observers and participants are impossible when
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