Ethnology Destroys What it Studies

Ethnology brushed up against its paradoxical death in 1971, the day when the Philippine government decided to return the few dozen Tasaday who had just been discovered in the depths of the jungle, where they had lived for eight centuries without any contact with the rest of the species, to their primitive state, out of the reach of colonizers, tourists, and ethnologists. This at the suggestion of the anthropologists themselves, who were seeing the indigenous people disintegrate immediately upon contact, like mummies in the open air.

In order for ethnology to live, its object must die; by dying, the object takes its revenge for being "discovered" and with its death defies the science that wants to grasp it.

Doesn't all science live on this paradoxical slope to which it is doomed by the evanescence of its object in its very apprehension, and by the pitiless reversal that the dead object exerts on it? Like Orpheus, it always turns around too soon, and, like Eurydice, its object falls back into Hades.

It is against this hell of the paradox that the ethnologists wished to protect themselves by cordoning off the Tasaday with virgin forest. No one can touch them anymore: as in a mine the vein is closed down. Science loses precious capital there, but the object will be safe, lost to science, but intact in its "virginity." It is not a question of sacrifice (science never sacrifices itself, it is always murderous), but of the simulated sacrifice of its object in order to save its reality principle. The Tasaday, frozen in their natural element, will provide a perfect alibi, an eternal guarantee. Here begins an antiethnology that will never end and to which Jaulin, Castaneda, Clastres are various witnesses. In any case, the logical evolution of a science is to distance itself increasingly from its object, until it dispenses with it entirely: its autonomy is only rendered even more fantastic - it attains its pure form.

The Indian thus returned to the ghetto, in the glass coffin of the virgin forest, again becomes the model of simulation of all the possible Indians from before ethnology. This model thus grants itself the luxury to incarnate itself beyond itself in the "brute" reality of these Indians it has entirely reinvented - Savages who are indebted to ethnology for still being Savages: what a turn of events, what a triumph for this science that seemed dedicated to their destruction!


When the anthropologist interacts with the indigenous person, they change and corrupt them.

Folksonomies: post modernism anthropology ethnology

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Anthropology (0.946237): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Social sciences (0.937678): dbpedia | opencyc
Cultural anthropology (0.846772): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Ethnology (0.727056): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Death (0.657838): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Hades (0.645696): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Primitive culture (0.605015): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Cultural Survival (0.595119): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Simulacra and simulation
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Baudrillard , Jean (1994), Simulacra and simulation, Univ of Michigan Pr, Retrieved on 2012-10-31
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: post modernism hyperreality