One of the most influential anthropologists to my own way of analyzing global society and how it interacts with each other is Edwin Wilmsen, whose book Land Filled with Flies: A Political Economy of the Kalahari has deeply influenced my thoughts about intercultural (“foreign”) relations (the other two most influential books on me so far have been Peace Pact… and 1491…). I am currently doing a research project and came across the following sentence, which deserves to be deeply pondered by anthropologist and layman alike:
[…] those who have been responsible for formulating and implementing policy towards [the San] have relied on a functionalist equilibrium model derived from ethnography grafted onto a residual colonial construction of a static San social condition […] A key element in this ideology [governing Botswana policy towards the San] is the mystification of [San] uniqueness, a condition that [has] been imposed on them by other, hegemonically dominant ethnic groups. Among these hegemonically dominant groups – I urge that we not forget this point – are ethnographers, whose work serves as scientific sanction for this mystification.
Wilmsen is a Marxist, and Land Filled with Flies… was written before the collapse of the Berlin Wall, but I nevertheless find his work extremely satisfying. Can anybody see why this is such a powerful critique of collectivism? Admittedly, I have depraved this post of its rich context, but I think readers here at Notes On Liberty are smart and thoughtful enough to find some gems among this deceptive-looking rock pile.