Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Hideously Arrogant Desire to Preserve the Cultures of Poor Countries Against the Influence of the Cultures of Rich Countries as Living Ethnographical Museums for Citizens of the Rich Countries to Visit

“One afternoon, in the early spring of 1993, a young American Peace Corps volunteer in a north central town of Mongolia expressed to her Mongol friend, as they walked down the town's main street together, a sense of disappointment that local Mongols were learning modern Western dances soon to be demonstrated in a public performance. She animatedly explained that she personally liked traditional Mongol dances, had learned some herself, and thought that it was inappropriate for Mongols to learn modern dances. Like many Westerners, this young American had a certain vision of the Mongols that the incursions of modernity, in this case forms of modern pop dancing, threatened. Her tone and the way she addressed her Mongol acquaintance suggested that she knew what the Mongols should do based on her authority as an American.”

--Kevin Stuart, Mongols in Western/American Consciousness, 1997

1 comment:

Corrie said...

Interesting that we can so categorize activities so that they are good for some, and not for others, simply based on a person's origin. On the one hand, Westerners are often criticized for "ruining" "primitive" cultures with their influence, yet people in those cultures have the desire to learn the same technologies and enjoy the same variety of choices as anybody else. Probably this young lady thought she was showing respect to Mongolian culture, but she forgot that the people in the culture are the ones who ultimately choose its direction.