History of the Human Sciences 15 (3):1-24 (2002)

This article argues that the implications of the recent eclipse of the construct of the `primitive' for the practice of the human sciences have not been adequately pondered. It asks, therefore, why and how the myth of primitiveness has been sustained by the human sciences, and what purposes it has served for the modern West's self-understanding. To attempt to answer such a query, the article pursues two principal lines of inquiry. In order to appreciate what is potentially being lost, the space that may be closing up as a result of the death of the `primitive', the first part of the article strives to demonstrate the latter's significance for the self-critique of modern ways of thinking and acting by historiographically reconstructing its changing roles within and representations by the human sciences. In the second section, it is contended that the eclipse of primitiveness has created a potentially problematic situation for the human sciences, since the cross-cultural mode of critique cultivated through this myth risks being neglected in a post-`primitive' age. All in all, then, the article claims that continued engagement with cultural alterity is essential for the human sciences after primitiveness, and that such an engagement can be sustained by an understanding of the different ways in which the `primitive' has been defined and has functioned over the course of the modern era
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DOI 10.1177/0952695102015003165
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References found in this work BETA

The Savage Mind.Alasdair MacIntyre & Claude Levi-Strauss - 1967 - Philosophical Quarterly 17 (69):372.

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Locke's State of Nature.Barry Hindess - 2007 - History of the Human Sciences 20 (3):1-20.

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