How "Natives" Think
About Captain Cook, for Example 2nd
By (author) Marshall Sahlins
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How Natives Think by Marshall Sahlins
Book DescriptionWhen Western scholars write about non-Western societies, do they inevitably perpetuate the myths of European imperialism? Can they ever articulate the meanings and logics of non-Western peoples? Who has the right to speak for whom? Questions such as these are debated in this text. Marshall Sahlins addresses these issues head on, while building a case for the ability of anthropologists working in the Western tradition to understand other cultures. In recent years, these questions have arisen in debates over the death and deification of Captain James Cook on Hawaii Island in 1779. Did the Hawaiians truly receive Cook as a manifestation of their own god Lono? Or were they too pragmatic, too worldly-wise to accept the foreigner as a god? Moreover, can a "non-native" scholar give voice to a "native" point of view? This volume seeks to go far beyond specialized debates about the alleged superiority of Western traditions. The culmination of Sahlins's ethnohistorical research on Hawaii, is a reaffirmation for understanding difference.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780226733692
(145mm x 230mm x 19mm)
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 10-Oct-1996
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Marshall Sahlins
Beyond Nature and Culture, Paperback (December 2014)
Deals with a question central to both anthropology and philosophy: what is the relationship between nature and culture? Drawing on ethnographic examples from around the world, the author formulates a new framework, the "four ontologies" - animism, totemism, naturalism, and analogism - to account for all the ways we relate ourselves to nature.
Confucius Institutes, Paperback (November 2014)
Drawing on reports in the media and conversations, the author shows that the Confucius Institutes are a threat to the principles of academic freedom and integrity at the foundation of our system of higher education.
What Kinship is-and is Not, Paperback (September 2014)» View all books by Marshall Sahlins
Offers, on its surface, a simple theoretical argument, laid out in the titles of its mere two chapters: kinship is culture, not biology. But along the way to proving his point, the author engages an array of thinkers, from Aristotle to Emile Durkheim to Marilyn Strathern, as well as an array of ethnographic examples from around the globe.
US Kirkus Review » Round two in an academic fistfight concerning interpretations of the Hawaiian perception of Captain Cook (1728-79). In The Apotheosis of Captain Cook (not reviewed), Gananath Obeyesekere claimed that the notion that Hawaiian natives mistook Captain Cook for their god Lono was a cultural myth perpetuated by "Western" scholars - Sahlins in particular. In this openly hostile response, Sahlins (Anahula, not reviewed, etc.) contends that it is ludicrous to assume, as Obeyesekere does, that native Hawaiians were endowed with a "practical rationality" that would have made it impossible for them to mistake a European man for a Hawaiian god, and points out that the notion of practical rationality is itself a Western concept. He next attacks the premise that Obeyesekere, as a native Sri Lankan, has a "privileged insight" into Hawaiian culture. Sahlins asserts that Polynesian culture and the culture of South Asia share little in common except a vaguely similar experience of Western domination. One of Sahlins's main criticisms is that, by dismissing their testimony as tainted by Western influences, Obeyesekere systematically silences the voices of Hawaiian informants. (Since Hawaii had no written language at the time of first contact, information was recorded by Europeans.) He also undermines Obeyesekere's argument by uncovering numerous errors of omission, inaccuracy, and misinterpretation. After addressing these flaws in Obeyesekere's book, Sahlins launches into a point-by-point defense of his own analysis of the Makahiki ritual (which concerns the cyclical return of Lono) and its resonance with the interactions between Cook and the natives as noted in the diaries of several crew members. The larger debate between "Western imperialist" anthropologists and their younger deconstructionist cousins is left unsettled, but there can be no doubt the Sahlins defends his own work persuasively. Virtually no appeal to the general reader, but essential reading to anthropologists caught up in the general theoretical upheaval affecting the discipline. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Marshall Sahlins
Marshall Sahlins is the Charles F. Grey Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. The author of numerous books, Sahlins is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
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