Description - The Myth of the Noble Savage by Terry Jay Ellingson
In this study, the myth of the "noble savage" is an altogether different myth from the one defended or debunked by others over the years. That the concept of the "noble savage" was first invented by Rousseau in the mid-18thcentury in order to glorify the "natural" life is easily refuted. The myth that persist is that there was ever, at any time, widespread belief in the nobility of savages. The fact is, as the author shows, the humanist 18th century actually avoided the term because of its association with the feudalist-colonialist mentality that had spawned it 150 years earlier. The "noble savage" reappeared in the mid-19th century, however, when the "myth" was deliberately used to fuel anthropology's oldest and most successful hoax. The author's narrative follows the career of anthropologist John Crawfurd, whose political ambition and racist agenda were well served by his construction of what was manifestly a myth of savage nobility. Generations of anthropologists have accepted the existence of the myth as act, and the author makes clear the extent to which the misdirection implicit in this circumstance can enter into struggles over human rights and racial equality.
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(229mm x 152mm x 28mm)
University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
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Author Biography - Terry Jay Ellingson
Ter Ellingson is an anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington.