[rumori] book review: Cannibal Culture

Steev [rumori] book review: Cannibal Culture
Tue, 5 May 1998 12:07:48 -0700 (PDT) (00894424068, Pine.LNX.3.95.980505113307.32195C-100000ATflotsam.detritus.net)

On Tue, 5 May 1998, Boster, Bob wrote:

>>Beware, she uses "appropriation" as a dirty word, but its a
>>different appropriation than the one fine artists use: it's the act of
>>taking parts of an oppressed culture and making them a commodity.

>word. The problem with this argument from the theorists is that it
>assumes some kind of "outside of culture" baseline TRUTH, which is
>totally fallacious. As if Paul Bowles was plundering a culture that was
>somehow culturally pure - as opposed to the reality of North African
>culture, which includes the dramatic melange of "Arabic" Islamicism, the
>slave culture they imported with their slaves from the coastal states of
>sub-Saharan Africa, the cultural threads of "Iberian" influences
>imported as they retreated from Spain, traces of leftover Egyptian
>culture, etc... None of those things were "pure" North African culture
>either, not to mention what the French brought to the party. The
>indigenous population of North Africa is so far buried under those
>influences as to be virtually unidentifiable.

Root actually goes into the Algerian situation in quite a bit of detail
and i don't know if you'd make the above arguement if you'd read the book.
The important thing is that what the French "brought to the party" was probably the most bloody and violent era in Algerian history.
15 years of slash and burn imperialistic war between "civilised" France and "primitive" Algeria. It actually set quite a few precedents and the U.S. applied some of the same techniques to the war on Native

Read the book. All the quotes i quoted, including the one you examine
below, are out of context (of course) andmake a lot more sense if you
read what was backing them up.

>>"The past can be exoticized as much as a contemporary society or event
>>can... Exoticism places culture outside history."
>True that exoticism detaches culture from socio-political "reality,"
>both past and present, and that there are negative implications of that.
> But the implication that said "history" is itself outside of culture
>displays the fatal flaw of this kind of analysis. The pushme-pullyou of
>late 20th C reality is that all of the disciplines of thought are
>"determined" by culture just as culture is driven by the predominant
>economic structure (amongst other things-lately I've been thinking it's
>driven by biology and language-think almost as much as economics).
>The idea that anything other than the systematic contact with the "new"
>(either in the margins or from the outside), wherein it is then dragged
>into the mainstream via a path which includes first its exoticism, then
>appropriation, then incorporation is possible is almost ludicrous. At
>least to me, at least without fascistic control over information flow.
>Now the ethical implications are something else. Just because I accept
>it as inevitable doesn't mean I don't think it could happen more

I think the ethical implications are entirely what the issue is.
I don't think there's any arguing with the other part.
There's no problem with cultures mixing and flowing and using each other,
as long as that doesn't doesn't happen as part of some hypocritical
oppresive power game. When we steal land from Natives with one hand
and sell their jewelry to tourists with the other, that's a problem.


Steev Hise, Would-be World-Wide Web Wizard (WWWWW)
steevAThise.org http://www.cyborganic.com/people/steev new recycled art site: http://www.detritus.net -----------------------------------------------------------------
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