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Blind JusticeversusMissionaries

in Rowboats:a Battle for Hegemony


Dr. Baskerville
November24 I 1999
'Signs of the Times' thereis a statementwhich, upon
Early in RonaldWalters' article

encounteringit, I thoughtdifticult to believe. Walterstells us that "a numberof today's scholars

yearsbelievinganthropologyto be the socialscienceclosestto

passedtheir undergraduate

history"(539). This was the oppositeof what I would haveexpected.The creatorof scientific
'prototypical anthropologist' was Franz Boas
anthropologywhose methodsand ideasdefine the

(Cantor 136-137).Boasheld "that societies[were] not evolving . . .they simply [existed].

Societies[were] not transformingthemselvesinto one another.This is known as the synchronic

(comparative)as opposedto the diachronic(historical) view of society"(Cantor136; emphasis

mine). History and anthropology- at leastto early and prominent anthropologists were

antithetical;logical enemies- how could they be close,intimate,in any way? Waltersexplains:

"Historians get their anthropologythrough Clifford Geertz,and referencesto his work have the

appearance[of being usedas window dressing]at times"(340). Walters doesnot stop there,

Geertziscreditedwith many useful innovations,but I will, becauseI believethis one point

. .: suggestsan explanationfor this odd couplingof the two disciplines. I suspectthat anthropology
is appealingto historiansso long as they take careto keep a certaindistance like window
'shop'. So doing, the historian is introducedto exciting
watchers- and not enter the anthropology

surpriseslike "an obscureepisode[being] madeto revealthe complexitiesof intercultural

contact" Walters s4I),while still playing to, and thus not disturbing,the "anti-theoreticalbias

amonghistorians"(553).Inside,however,closeto the hearthof the store,and the Boasnianheart

of the anthropologicaldiscipline, historianscome too closeto anthropology'srotten core to

avoid being repulsed.

Rotten isn't too harsha word, I think, becausethe reactionof historianswho move beyond
discussingGeertz'sethnographicalwork on the Balinesecockfightsat one remove i.e.

discussingvirtuesof thick descriptionas an idea without looking too closelyat the resultsof it as

a method- is that his work might havefoul implications. Foul, andnot misleadingimplications,

becausethe historianswho distancethemselvesfrom Geertzdo this more, I think, than because

they seemajor incompatibilitiesbetweenhis approach,and a historicalone. It isn't that they

don't seeincompatibilities - most of thesehistoriansactually go further and arguethat because
Geertz'smethodof thick descriptionis static, is thereforeunreal but there

is a degreeof overreactionin their rejection of Geertz;a certainamount of testinessdetectablein

their responses;and an elementof dogmatismcharactenzingtheirexplanationof what is really

'hard' realities:changesthroughtime; political and economicstructures)that I believe
true (the

are suggestiveand worth exploring(Biersack:80; Walters:549).

It is as if part of what they are doing in respondingto Geertzis simultaneously

compartmentalizingor caging certainthoughtsarising from Geertz's descriptionof the Balinese

'hard' barrier to a "danger,
cockfights - an attemptto erect a [the] aestheticizingof all domains
'hard surface' moorings"(Biersack
[and a] transformation[which] cuts the symbolic free from its
o'causefor concern. . . that there are
81). Why? - perhapsbecause,as Walters notes,there is a

dangerousand politically loadedprecedentsin his [Geertz'sftreatmentof power"(553-554). If

so, then perhapsit isn't unreasonableto wonder if we ought to move beyond an analysisof the

good and bad aspectsof particular disciplines' methodstowards an analysisof the motivations of

scholarsfor choosingor avoiding particular methods. Do historiansemphasizethe importanceof

changeover time, transformationsthrough participation,becausethesethings are indisputably

real and relevantor becausethey thereby avoid the dangerousimplications of other methods?

The primary concernof all scholarsis the truth . . . isn't it?

Before I explore the possibility that it isn't, or at least not primarily, I want to provide some

examplesof how I believe somehistorianstry to contain or limit the influence of Geertz as much
through rhetorical style or rhetorical intimidation as through analysis indeed,I believe that in

many casesGeertzis refuted primarity by rhetorical manipulation. Aletta Biersack,who I've

alreadyquoted as warning about the aestheticizingof all domains,arguesthat Geertz's method

of symbolic transformationsis inadequatebecause we live in a time "when Foucault's work

impressesus with the ubiquity of the political function [and thusJsuch claims are especially
vulnerable"(81;emphasismine). In my mind, this is argumentby intimidation to agreewith

Geertzyou will find yourself out of stepwith the majority of scholarsor at least all reasonable
'usoto mean).
scholars(I am guessingthat is who Biersacktakes

Most of Bernard Cohn's article has what he would call a playful (and I think mocking) tone
he turns'serious'withhis
while discussing'anthropologyland'and'historyland'until

explorationstoward an anthropologicalhistory. Here he statesthat :

No matter how much the anthropologistmay be committed to the studying

from the natives'point of view, what he or shelearnsis alwaysmediatedby
a subtle or not so subtlecomparativemethod. This method,though, is
atemporal,despitethe fact that the culture.:hestudiesare necessarily
historical becausethey are constantlybeing constructed:peopleeverywhere
live lives which are constitutedout of the past.Cultureis continuallybeing
invented or modified, without being totally transformed. Men live in a world
of intention and consequence.Intention and action are turned into culture by

This is of coursea theory - but theory disguisedas truth with the help of a changein tone by the


Hans Medick praises Geertzbut warns, like Walters does,of Geertzianethnologists,and

suggeststhat Cohn "perhapstoo modestlypointed only to [the dangersofl ethnographers'

ahistoricalways of seeing"(76:emphasismine). With Medick if you agreewith ethnologists

'missionary in a row boat'. I
from either the anthropologyor history discipline then you are a

believe that this is the kind of derogatorylabeling (much like psychohistorybeing labeled the
,potty training theory of history'( althoughI admit I like to usethis label myself - I think its

funny)) that could scareimpressionablescholarsaway. Medick, like Cohn, follows with a

'reality'. He statesthat the "meaning under the conditions of
dogmatic assertionof

asymmetrically structuredsocial contextsof action and interpretationis neverjust inherited,

mine). You almostwantto agreewith him because'

reproducedand transmitted"(97;emphasis

as RenatoRosaldosays,it almost compels [the] readerto plead,"Please,pleasecut off my hand,

but don't give me the Panopticon,don't subjectme to your disciplining gaze"(338).There is a

sensethat the readermight agreeto agreewith theseauthorsas a way to relieve anxiety.

'real' way the world works without feeling the need
The authorsI have mentionedpresentthe
'truth', and not simply one way of seeingthe world. If they
to explain how they know this is the

do so becausethis truth is obvious then it is unclearas to why Geertzneedsto be refuted at such

length,and by suchquestionablemeans.After all, if everythingin the world is always

transforming,alwaysin motion, how could anyoneassumeotherwise?Our own experienceof

the flux of the world should be enoughthat thesehistoriansneedonly ask their readerto go read

Geertzto limit his influence.

I would arguethat it is becausetransformationsare not always evident, or at least not always

'overreactions'. If we
worthy of the importancethesehistoriansassignthem, that we get such
'see' ritualsthat seemcyclical or if by staying"within the viewpoint of
observethe Balineseand

the protagonists[which thereby] diminishesthe social,political, and economic context" (Walters

555)we might imagine that "studying societyfrom the bottom up [doesnotf necessarily[lead] to

the study of ruling classesand the natureof control mechanismsand expropriationsof various

kind"(Cohn 218). In fact, it makesyou wonderif it is lessGeertz'svirtue that for him thereis
,,no such thing . . . as disembodiedhistoriesof ideas" as Walters suggests,and more his vice that
'soft' - as lacking the roots to reality as they
to thesehistorianshe exposestheir own truths as 1.
accuseGeertz,or at leasthis followers,as being.
Walters recognizesthe ironical propositionthat ethnographycan be a misleading enterprise
it is after all the study of peopleclose up: an antidote to armchairtheorists but to him "human

beings are not always the most accuratelufges of their own situationand its patternsof

exploitation and submission"(555). Cir(is Martin, in the introduction to the American Indian

and the problem of History, statesflat out what this statementby Walter;could suggest:

arrogance:"We have createdcanonsof reality, truth, credibility, and evidenceof what

constitutesfact . . . identified and interpretedcertainpoints of referencewithin the human

psyche"(7) which hasus " colonizingthe Indian's mind, like a virus commandeeringthe cell's

geneticmachinery"(6; emphasismine). Martin accusesus of being "fired by a kind of

ethnocentricrighteousness:we believe our scienceof humankindis the most powerful analytical

tool yet invented"(13).


According to Martin our pride hasus "maintainthatthey [Indians],like us, did tastethe fruit

"of the tree of the knowledgeof good and evil" (Genesis2:17)and that they, too, were expelled
from the Gardeninto a world whereHomo is convincedthat survival is a ceaseless

a mute and indifferent cosmos" (I2). "We make them into a "people of history": assignthem our

terms and conceptionof living in time and space,our commitment to changingreality and

changinghumanityover the ages. We, too, poseand then doctorthe negatives,refusingthem "a

theaterfor tribal eventsin mythic time" (16). "The native is equatedwith the white at the basic

level of human motivation and self-interest"(10) and thereforewe do not recognizethat "Native

Americans traditionally subscribedto a philosophyof history, and of time, profoundly different

from ours and that of our forebears"(6). According to Martin, Indians are tational they are

accuratejudges of their own situation;"the problemis they are being assignedsomeoneelse's

:- More is the pity, accordingto Martin, becauseuntil we recognize"the truth of Paul Radin's

conviction that until scholarsrid themselves,once and for all, of the curious notion that

an evolutionary history; until they realizethat certain ideasand certain

everything possesses
'no progresswill be achieved"'(20).
conceptsare. . . ultimatefor man. . .
Now Martin is referringto Native Indians,not the Balinese,and when he usesthe word

he is not discriminating betweenanthropologistsor historians;but he meansto generalizein the

sameway Cohn doeswhen Cohn melts the distinctionsbetweendisciplinesdefining them both

'otherness'.Therefore,I feel it is appropriateto bring him into this essaywhich
as the study of

is primarily abouthistoriansand their responseto Geertz'sstudyof the Balinese. It is also suits

my purposeto shift the focus from method choice to the motivations of those scholarswho use

them. Martin is accusingscholarsof being proud;and by so doing he insinuatesthat when

encounteringcultureswith world views different from their own that we be skepticalwhen they

dismisstheseviews as ignorant. The importanceof avoidingthe possibility of being wrong, or

to have his/her opinions groupedinto a world view, one no betterthan others,to a proud person

especially,might shapethe conclusionshe/shecomesto.


the historiansI havebeendiscussing.

I do not believethatit is pridewhichbestcharacterizes
thathistoriansseemrepulsedby the implicationsof Geertz'swork,
After all I havesuggested

andthat the coreof his work might seemrottento them,surelysuggestingthat somethingother

or morethanprideis involved. I think I canexplorewhatI think mightinsteadbe involvedby
[of our stubbornandstrictlyheldwestern
consideringMartin'sview that"the reverberations
including(quotingDrinnon),thatwe "havetherebyrobbed
viewsof timel areenorrnous"(6)
tribal peopleof their reality [andthereby]surelystranglethesepeople"(16;emphasismine).
for not takingotherculturesseriously,
Martin believesthattherearetenibleconsequences

thereforethe toneof his articleis oftenangryandalarmist- andthusnot dissimilarfrom the tone

andrhetoricof the otherarticlesI've discussed.If he is correct,thetoneis certainlyappropriate;

for takingthemseriouslywerepotentially
but whatwe mustconsideris thatif theconsequ
asterribleasfor not doingso,then thereactionsof the historiansto GeerJzthatI havepreviously
discussedcould not fairly be thoughtof asoverTeactions- but ratherasboth appropriateand
Martin'sview thatwhatis primarilyat issuehere
sensible.If true,it shouldleadusto reconsider
is pride,and,instead,considermeltingthe distinctionsbetweenMartin andthe otherhistorians
with justice:we aredealingwith
I,ve dealtwith andthink of themall assimil{iity concerned
good,not proud,scholars.But if this is true,we mayalsoneedto takeseriouslythe possibility
'truths'thatseemto havedangerous politicalimplications,thatthey
mightmakesubtleor evendramatictransformations, whetherdoneconsciouslyor
'dangerous'forms. If so,andin referenceto thesegood
of these'truths' into less
anotherthoughtof Martin's:"thoughhe speaksthe words
scholars,we maywantto contemplate
charity,andsympathy,his philosophy,his metaphysics
of benevolence, and
is mischievous

perhapsif Martin'sareaof study(NativeAmericanhistory)- asMartin admits,agreeingwith

ReginaldHorsman- "hadn'tlaggedbehindotherhistoriansin employingthe newapproaches

andtechniquesthat havebegunto transformwriting on otherareasof Americanhistory"

andhis own (9). Martin
he might haverecognizedsomesimilaritiesbetweentheirapproaches

maintainsthat there are antagonisticand irreconcilabledifferencesin their two core philosophies;

namely, as alreadymentioned,differencesin conceptionsof time and space.But the

philosophicalinfluence that is largely prevalentin current histories,and certainly prevalentin

thesearticles in responseto Geertz,is often a mixture of Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault.

Although both philosophersfocus on processand change,especiallywith Gramsci there is the

'throwing off of chains': a rise of the
sensethat the result of all this changewill be a final

oppressedwhich has a utopic, timelesssenseto it. You sensethis most dramatically in Rosaldo's

article, where it seemsthat an event of this kind is very close. She saysthat:

the aftermath of decolonization has stimulated further changesin the

disciplines. Changesin the postcolonialworld have becomeincreasingly
evident in metropolitancentersthroughoutthe world. The hinterlandshave
engulfed urban centerand the third world has imploded into the first.
Different races,ethnicities,languages,and culturesnow live side by side in
Jakarta,Paris, Lima, London, Bombay, and Manhattan. In the state of
California, demographersestimatethat twenty years from now the state's
population will be sixty percentminority...In this context it should probably
come as no surprisethat when ethnographersand "natives" meet it is difficult
to predict who will pick up the pencil and who will put on the loincloth...In such
contexts yesterday's solid truth now appearsto be a partial truth or the
dominant ideologY.(339-3aO)

Rosaldois writing in protestof the comforting effect of Geertz's absurdimage of the discipline

of history being devoured by the anthropological rabbit. Her dramatic responsein demonstrating

the potency of the anthropologicalchallenge,has somethingof the samepopulist, revolutionary

senseas Martin's protestfor us to:

Pausein this greatmissionof oursto remindourselvesthatin studyingthe

AmericanIndianwe aredealingwith a memberof the specieswho hassurvived
equallyaslong aswe haveon this planet,survivedfor all thosemillenniawith
of perceptionsecond
a refinementof intellect,levelof insight,andsophistication
to none. Thesepeopleandtheir ancestorsscrutinizedandponderedthe great
cosmicandexistentialissuesandproducedanswers just ascompleteand
asours. Perhapsevenmoresatisfactory
satisfactory thanours...Thepointto
be madeis that...theorientationof AmericanIndian cultureswaseverybit as the Westernanthropological paradigm.The proof

is that Indians survived;they reproducedand thrived. (8)

Biersack,too, can be interpretedas if she believesthat the "globally and geopolitically...

structuresof domination" which have silencedpeoplefor too long are vulnerable;and that these

voices are becominglouder and louder and now finally being heard(52). She saysthat "each

field . . . is today a site of theoreticalexcitation where multiple traditions battle for hegemony.

Theseconflicts provide the fertile soil out of which eachdiscipline is presentlystruggling to

createits own future"(73-74). Which philosophicalviews are winning this hegemonicbattle?

According to Biersack it is Foucaultand Marx. And so we might extrapolateand say that

Biersack's "transnational,Western-dominated,capitalisticsystem" has somedog days aheadof

it (83).

I believe that there is sentimentof this kind at work in pretty much every responseI

encounteredto Geertz. I want to usethis point to suggestthat Martin is wrong to think that

historiansare incapableof imagining a timelessexistence,and emphasize thatthere ate tactical

reasonsfor not doing so. Martin is correctthat the new philosophicaltrendsput his view of
'backw ater' existence- the parochial 'missionary in a rowboat' view - but
native life into a
perhapsincorrect that thesenew approachesdo a disserviceto the peoplesstudied. The old

/ 'cold' divisionsof culturesis no longer popularor respectable- they seemchildishly simple

and mystical. Thereforewhen Martin applaudsscholarswho are "implicitly engagedin a revolt

againsttime and history [seekinga] timelesswisdom of the human species[and who] are not
'history,' as it is conventionallyunderstood:the collection
looking for, nor looking to compose,

and interpretationof facts and data in the serviceof academicknowledge" (16), they all come
'insane'.Yet this is arguablywhat historianswho cite Foucault,Marx, and

Gramsci are doing - only they manageto remain respectable.

'cold' conceptionof cultureswas oncehegemonic."Cultural anthropology
The old 'hot'/

grew up as part of a humanistic,reformist, and vaguely radical protest. It was the war against

racism that predisposedsocial scientistsin the United statesto reject evolutionary

'hot' culturescould work in oppositeways to western'cold' cultures
theories"(Lasch:67). So

(including being atemporal)and be deemeddifferent but equal. Peoplelike MargaretMead

'hot' cultureswere in many ways superiorto
pushedfurther, like Martin does,and claimed that
'cold' ones. The 'hot'/ 'cold' distinctionwas an invitation to suspenddisbeliefand imagine,like

Margaret Mead did, that infanticidal culturesraisedtheir children betterthan we did because

their children weren't spanked.But I believethat today,the willingnessto suspenddisbeliefis


Scholarsnow have to deal with ethnographicthick descriptionsof such things as cockfights

from people like Geertzwhich are not as easily characterizedasjust one of many different but

equal ways of doing things. Geerlzdescribeshis own method of analysisas textual, and as I

have noted, it has beenrefutedfor its aestheticproperties;but really, when you read the actual

accountof the cockfight its difficult not to consciouslyor unconsciouslythink that this is a pretty

savageritual, and only perverselyaestheticif at all. It's not simply the aggressivebehaviouror

the waste of animal life which disturbs,there is the whole matter of the exclusion of the women

from the ritual to deal with, and'addme"where feminists and Marxists find oppression"and

"symbolistsfind meaning"(Biersack166).
philosopherslike Foucault and Gramsci provide an out. You can read descriptionsof

cockfights, allow yourself to be disturbedby what you encounter,and not assumethat there is

somethingdeeply wrong with the people. Instead,they are oppressed;not wholly aware of other

possibilities;yet not passiveeither:slowly, but surely,they are in the processof emancipating

themselves.So you get repliesto GeertzbyWilliam Roseberry,echoedby Biersackand others,

that the cockfight should be understood,at least partially, as a kind of resistanceto colonialism

becausethe Balineseregardtheir islandas taking the shapeof "a small proud cock, poised,neck

extended,back taut, tail raised,in eternalchallengeto large, reckless,shapelessJava"(1021).

And, unfortunately,what you also get is very liule extrapolationof exactly how this

resistanceto colonialism can be observedin Geertz's descriptionof the cocKight. Instead,there

'dangerousimplications' of taking Geertztoo seriously. Like, I wonder, the
are the warnings of

dangerof takingseriouslyGeertz'snotethatin "two weeksof December1965,duringthe

coupin Djakarta,betweenforty andeightythousand
following the unsuccessful

Balinesewerekilled, largelyby oneanother",of whichhe saysthattheirtraditionof the

seemif not lessappalling,lesslike a contradictionto the
cocldight"shouldmakethis massacre
andreadit asif
this statement
lawsof nature-(4s2). I suggestthatit is difficult not to encounter
to their nature.Scholarsaremorelikely nowadaysto think
the massacrewasn'ta contradiction
'hot'/ 'cold' culturaldivide,namelythatall cultures
sothemselves,sincewhatremainsof theold
otherpeoples,but is
thatwe becarefulin makinganyclaimto understand
not aseffectivein wardingoff judgementsasthe old cry of ethnocentrism
Therefore,I arguethat the coreof currentanthropologicalmethodsis in a senserotten, and
that thereis a genuineconcernthatthis rot couldcomrptthe healthydevelopments
historians.Geertzhashadan impacton historians;his namehas
,.croppedup in articleson subjectsasfar removedasfamily life in earlymodernEurope,

prussianideology,regionaldifferencesin England,anddeathin colonialnewEngland"(Walters

537).WaltersquotesRichardBeemandeclaring:"Geertz'swork offersthe mostplausible

'new socialhistorian'.. . in discoveringthe characterof both
startingpoint . . . for the
'structure"'(538).But Geettz'shegemonycomesat a time
scholarslike FoucaultandGramsciareat leastasprominentandreputable

amongsthistoriansashe is. In a way it doesallow for a "a kind of sociologicalaestheticism

is truewith Geertzbut not
losestouchwithl the hardsurfacesof life"(80) asBiersacksuggests

truewith Foucault.All peoplesarevictimsof the globalcapitalisticsystems;an evil so

so omnipresent,
oppressive, its influence.Somehistorianssee
thatno activityor personescapes
,fightingcocks'everywhere, [not] placedin localframesof
or islandsnot "untothemselves
of domination"(Biersack
. . . but situatedgloballyandgeopoliticallywithin structures
82).So long asFoucaultandGramscihavealargeinfluencein the universities,Geertz's
influenceis not reallya danger.But someof thesehistorians,Waltersespecially,tealizethatif
like J.C.D
the strugglefor hegemonyin thedisciplinesevershiftsin favourof conservatives

Clarkin England(who PafiickJoycesaysknowsthathegemonyis a gamemorethanonecan

in Canada(who,accordingto PeterBaskerville,likesto usemilitary
play),or Granastein
theycouldpointto episodes
metaphors), like Geertz'scocldight,relateit to Balinesemassacres,
andmakethe casethat what we haveherearepeoplewho arebestnot understoodasrational
'native' - at all. As Martin says,the potential" reverberations
whether'western'or are
'truth' thatis takenfrom Geertz'scocldights,conservative minded
enonnous"(6).If this is the
scholarsmightlook to all theseotherhistoricalstudiesinfluencedby his work, at pre-modern
Europeanpeoplesfor example,andsaythattheir wife sales,bearbaiting,witch burning,sheep
theft,food riots wereaboutasinational- savage- aspatriciansoncethought.The
'mob' onceagain.

Clark,for example,is alreadyat work doingsomethinglike this: he saysthatthe English

peopleoverthe lastfew centurieshavein fact changedvery little. They areasreligious,
accordingto Clark,is
locallyoriented,astheywerecenturiesago. Progress,
arestaticallyritualistic;andchangeis largelyin the mindsof a
largelyan illusion;processes

revolutionaryfew. But he doesnot believe,like Martin does,thatwe considerthis aspossible

an idealway to live. Instead,Clark shareswith fellow
conservativehistorianNormanStonethe drearyview of humannatureadvancedin Stone's

introductionto CharlesMackaY's

Somevery oddmanifestations haveappeared in thetwentiethcentury...we

haveseenthe emergence of minority groups who demand'rights' on the
groundsof pastgrievances ratherthanpresentresponsibilities.In the wake
of thesedemandshascomethe requirementnot to be insulted- andthe rise
of 'politicalcorrectness'
whichreduceslanguages thathavebeencenturies
a'giowingto a childishlevelof primness.Suddenenthusiasms to alterstates
- -
of-affairsthat haveendured for goodor ill for centurieshavesweptthrough
nationsandcontinents.The opponents of child abuseandthe advocates of
suddenlycometo theforefrontof humannotice...The examplesarenumerous'
disturbing,andseemto be peculiarto our age. Surely,theymanagedthings
befferin the past?Well, no, theydidn't. Of necessity, the odditiesof our age
arepeculiarto it, but morein detailthanextent. ExtraordinaryPopular

Delusionsandthe Madnessof Crowdsis asrelevanttoday asit waswhen

humanfolly changesonly in
it waswrittena centuryanda half ogo,because
detailnot in scale.(vi)

I would do prettymuchanythingto limit the influenceof this pessimistic,
And so,too, I believe,wouldmanyotherdecentmenandwomenpossiblyincludingthe
throughoutthis essay.
historiansI havebeendiscussing
Would I everlie, or mislead?Honestly,I wouldprefernot to, but if aftersomemoralistic

calculusI concludeda lie wouldbe a kind of smallevil put in serviceof defeatinga very big one,
a bad
I think I would. I don't think thatmanyscholarswouldeveradmitto this (not necessarily
thing)but I canstill imaginetr:* placingcluest"ililJfrks meantto dissuadereadersfrom

comingto certainconclusions.lDone aredeemeddangerous,

but selfjustified by a renderingof themasboth dangerousanduntrue.lBut if I am correctabout

overtruth,in a casewherethetruthhasdangerous

shouldn'tbe too surprisedif we find thatladyjusticeis blind.

the dangersof Geertz,scholarsmissinspiringpeopleto takethe
But if by emphasizing
"anthropological it would be a
into the archiveor library"(22I),asCohnsuggests,
"enablesthe historianto befferappreciate
realloss. Cohnsaysthatthis experience
significanceof whatwouldotherwiseappearto be meretrivia" (22I). Probablytrue,but I
andthereforean evengreaterloss,would be to
suspectthatthe moreilluminatingexperience,
of readingabouta people- andthentakethe
takethe 'library experience'- the experience
one:visitingthemyourselfto seewith your own eyesthe activitiesdescribedby
'saw' wasquitedifferentfrom thatof
or historians.If you foundthatwhatyou
the author's
the personwho you read'saw',andif you hadinitially unquestioningly

view, you mightbe powerfullyremindedthattwo peoplecanwitnessa similar eventandyet see

suchdifferentthings. It may bethatthe differencecanbe explainedsimplyenoughby crediting
'globalizingforces';but you may insteadthink of anothertruism: eyeswide
it to the effectsof
open,you seea wink; eyeswide shut,you seewhatyou wantto see. History'sgreatestbarrier

Our greatestgoalmightnot be to discoverbetterandbetter

its pastness.
is not necessarily

methodsto helpus 'see'the past.But our darkestsecretmaywell be thatour own biases,our

'see' regardless
of the '/
own motivationsfor studyingour subject,mighttransformwhatwe
methodswe use and the abundance,or absence,of particularkinds of evidencewe work with. 'fv

areenonnous":where Geertzsees,.,#,
[, again,agreewith Martinthatthe "reverberations
lr -.-+e-*-4'" d

I suspect,,avma.
meaning, pry"norogvi.[""[il'ild;,{
in developmental
My readings {*'
doubtrhat ,w

repeatinga replica of the original traumatizingexperiencein an effort to control and deflatetheir L*il ,,"/

free floating memories.They havetrouble growing, trouble maturing,andlead lives that not a \J*^[
singlehumanbeingshould.I don't tlink thatmisunderstanding a people stranglestlem, as ",i r[ I
," , # "
Martin believes,but I do believethat it may amountto an abandonmentof them. ..i'
But this dreamingatleist hasa vision of his own timelessutopia;and it is a happyand holy
'weapons',picked up
place: the good 'hegemoners'havedefeatedthe badones,put down their
I t.,t*l"4 ""
their .bibles, (Lloyd deMause'sFo\riditions of Psychohistory?),and asa new generationof

bravemissionaries,havesetoff in rowboatsto help savepeoplefrom their terible painsfar too

long iglored.
/ ' -o


NormanCantor,The AmericanCentury:Varietiesof Culturein ModernTimes.New York:


Christopher[,asch,Havenin a HeartlessWorld: the Family Beseiged.New York: BasicBooks,

CharlesMackay,ExfiaordinaryPopularDelusionsandthe Madnessof Crowds.Ware:
WordsworthRlitions Ltd., I99s.
6 6r.linr
d*is, Martin, The AmericanIndianandthe Problemof History.Oxford: Oxford University