With the demise of colonialism in Insular Southeast Asia and the
development of representative governments and locally-controlled
economies, it was thought that this would be the end of authoritarianism
and economic exploitation. However, it has not worked out that way
for the indigenous, tribal peoples of the island of Borneo. Instead
there has been not only a continuation of the processes that were
set in motion by the colonial governments but also an intensification
of them with the growing power of the new states and with the expansion
of the world economy. Casanova (1965) in looking at this process
in various Third World countries refers to it as “internal
For example, in both Indonesian and Malaysian Borneo the land
rights of indigenous villages are still being ignored and overridden.
A number of development policies have been set in motion to take
native land for the use of the state or commercial interests (see
Appell 1975a, Appell, ed., n.d.). In Indonesian Borneo there has
been an explicit policy of removal of the indigenous peoples from
their traditional areas to resettlement centers where the economic
base is inadequate for them to continue their traditional economies
or to develop new economies (see Appell, 1985b, Appell, ed., 1985,
L. Appell-Warren 1985). This has freed up the traditional village
land areas for both forest and mineral exploitation. In addition,
the indigenous peoples have been forced to give up their traditional
religious beliefs for conversion to a world religion and forced
to give up their traditional dress for “modern” dress.
Much of this authoritarian behavior towards indigenous peoples
is nationally and locally justified on the basis that the government
is providing them with the “modern” advantages. Schooling
is instituted and medical facilities are provided. Health services
are a vital part of becoming a modern state, and schooling is necessary
for a people to participate in representative government, so the
argument of modernization goes.
The schooling provided has three critical goals: (1) cultural
indoctrination into the central values of the state by teaching
the students the symbols and habits believed necessary for being
members of the modern state, such as sewing classes so that the
students can make the national style of clothes; (2) teaching modern
life ways, such as the baking of bread and cakes, hair styling,
etc.; and (3) the training of students so that they are sufficiently
literate and skilled in the management of their labor service to
enter the lower echelons of government and commerce. It is of some
interest that the schooling is, in general, inappropriate to the
economy of peasant farmers.
Charles Brooke, the Second Rajah of Sarawak, clearly saw the nature
of the problem when he wrote with great foresight in 1907:
We stuff natives with a lot of subjects that they don’t require
to know, and try to teach them to become like ourselves, treating
them as if they had not an original idea in their possession [Quoted
in Pringle 1970:139].
The medical services provided are based on a form of syncretic
medicine, a practice that includes an incomplete understanding of
western medical knowledge and a number of procedures that are clearly
health threatening, such as reusing needles for injections without
Similar processes have been at work also in Brunei and Malaysian
Borneo, although not to the same extent. There are resettlement
projects, but the social boundaries are not as rigid. On the other
hand, the intrusion of the plantation economy on a peasant economy
and the conversion of entrepreneurial agriculturalists into agricultural
labor is widely occurring. This proletarianization of independent
farmers makes them subject to market forces beyond their control
(i.e., Appell 1975a). And, as in Indonesian Borneo, those customary
behaviors that help the indigenous people define their social identity
are attacked and discouraged.
One of the more important consequences of these forces of social
change is to detach meaning from work. As Marglin (1984, p. 43)
writes in his review of theories of economic development and their
impact on peasants:
Lacking control over the work process and its product, many of
us derive no more meaning from the work we do than a paycheck at
the end of the week. In our society work for the most part stands
outside the satisfactions of life, opposed to pleasure.... Even
fewer of us would claim to find transcendent social meaning in collective
labor, as even the most humble worker might once have done when
the medieval cathedrals were taking shape, or as the “primitive”
does regularly in day-to-day activities.
To be fully human is to be enmeshed in a context of meaning to
our lives, to our work. And so the forces of development that are
destroying the world of meaning of indigenous peoples are in a very
real sense dehumanizing them. But this process also produces health
impairment, for loss of meaning has been found associated with psychiatric
disorders (see Frankl, 1973).
In sum, throughout Borneo, the indigenous, tribal peoples are
under threat. They are losing control over their lands, over their
economy, over their housing, over their dress, over their children,
over their religious beliefs, over the way that they define themselves
as social persons, and over their history; in a word, over their
culture. But, as many of us argue, economic and social development
can proceed without the wholesale destruction of cultures and the
proletarianization of the peasant farmer (see Appell, n.d.). It
can proceed leaving a healthy social identity. There are other models
for development that build on, rather than destroy, functioning
communities, as for example the Hutterites. While such communities
within the larger western political economy are considered deviant,
being based on a form of communalism but not communism, they are
in many cases more productive than the nucleated family farm. So
why has it been otherwise? How do we begin to explain the forces
that have created these problems? Why have not these other models
One of the persistent but covert themes, both in the processes
of modernization and the social science theory that is advanced
to guide and justify it, is that of dehumanization. It has been
characteristic of the contact of all western societies, or their
derivatives with indigenous peoples. And change agents still frequently
denigrate and belittle the members of a population and their sociocultural
system to achieve their change goals. Usually the very act of development
itself is phrased in terms that implicitly, if not explicitly, devalue
the culture of the indigenous population and its members (see Appell,
1975a, 1975b, 1975c, 1980a). What is surprising is that dehumanization
still finds expression in the social sciences in various forms and
in the attitudes of westernized indigenous elites. It is important
to define the nature of dehumanization before we proceed.
Bernard, Ottenberg, and Redl (1971, p. 102) define “dehumanization”
as a defense against painful and overwhelming emotions that entails
a decrease in a person’s sense of his own individuality and
in his perception of the humanness of others. They view dehumanization
“not as a wholly new mental mechanism but rather a composite
psychological defence which draws selectively on other well known
defenses, including unconscious denial, repression, depersonalization,
isolation of affect and compartmentalization ...” (1971, p.
There are both adaptive and maladaptive functions of dehumanization.
The surgeon uses a form of dehumanization so that he can perform
without emotional involvement. Bernard and colleagues divide maladaptive
dehumanization into two processes: self-directed dehumanization,
which relates to self-image and indicates a diminution of an individual’s
sense of his own humanness; and object-directed dehumanization which
refers to perceiving others as lacking in those attributes that
are considered to be most human. The important point is that these
two forms are mutually reinforcing.
Bernard and colleagues further divide object-directed dehumanization
into two forms: partial and complete.
Partial dehumanization includes the misperceiving of members of
“out-groups”, en masse, as subhuman, bad human, or superhuman;
as such, it is related to group prejudice. It protects the individual
from the guilt and shame he would otherwise feel from primitive
or antisocial attitudes, impulses, and actions that he directs —
or allows others to direct — toward those he manages to see
in these categories: if they are subhumans they have not yet reached
full human status on the evolutionary ladder and, therefore, do
not merit being treated as human; if they are bad humans, their
maltreatment is justified since their defects in human qualities
are their own fault ... The main conscious emotional concomitants
... are hostility and fear [1971, p. 105].
The more complete form of object-directed dehumanization “entails
a perception of other people as nonhumans — as statistics,
commodities, or interchangeable pieces in a vast ‘numbers
game’. Its predominant emotional tone is that of indifference
... together with a sense of noninvolvement in the actual or foreseeable
vicissitudes of others” (1971, 105-6).
Dehumanization has been a dominant theme in western tradition
with the application of the metaphor of the machine to humans and
human activities and the use of natural science models in the social
sciences (Randall, 1976; Rifkin, 1980). And dehumanization has deep
historical roots in the response of western culture to native peoples
THE DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING OF THE NEW POLITICAL ELITES
The post-colonial elites that have taken power in insular Southeast
Asia have been trained in the West or at institutions in their own
countries that have been staffed by westerners or by western-trained
nationals. As a result, they carry many of the assumptions as to
the nature of the good society that are current in western thought,
which involve many of the aspects of dehumanization characterized
previously, and they have been exposed to social science thinking
in which there has been a growing objectification of persons. These
reeducated elites then carry these ideas back to their own society
and apply them in a context which is not entirely appropriate.
Furthermore, many of these individuals have themselves been torn
out of a small community social matrix and now move in an urban
environment, or are second and third generation urbanites. One of
the consequences of this form of social reorganization is the development
of disorders of affiliation (Appell n.d.). These are encouraged
by the growth of individualism in the West. Such processes lead
to a lowered capacity of individuals to identify with others, and
as a result, dehumanization of others becomes a dominant part of
their psychological make up.1
In addition, the returning elites bring back a a thought, which
may usefully be termed “economic fundamentalism.” In
economic fundamentalism there is the underlying assumption that
“economic considerations constitute the primary force which
shapes the basic ideas and attitudes of man” (Connor 1972,
p. 342), and this belief is held with similar emotional saliency
as are beliefs held in religious fundamentalism.2 In unpacking this
concept we can discover the following themes:
1. The belief that the value of everything is determined by its
price in the marketplace rather than in religious, social, or
2. An acceptance of the decadent version of individualism, which
Tocqueville warned about. The individual becomes highly self-interested,
acquisitive, and with a sense of responsibility to no individual
or institution but himself to the degree that social institutions,
such as government, are to be used for individual benefit and
3. The view that tradition is a hindrance to economic opportunity
and personal growth.
4. The belief that progress, particularly economic progress,
is both natural and one of the greatest goods.
5. The belief that economic growth is the solution to human ills
6. The assumption that economic growth and development can be
planned and regulated, in other words the belief that a political
economy can be managed.
7. An acceptance of the Calvinistic view, and its final effluvium,
that man is measured by his economic status and not by his character.
8. The use of the metaphor of the machine for various social
purposes but most perniciously for man and his work.
9. The acceptance of the proposition that labor is a commodity.
10. The belief in the importance of private property and that
indigenous societies do not have this concept.
11. The belief that the legal vehicle of the business corporation
is the best means by which communal interests in property may
One of the interesting cultural themes that persists in western
thought, but which appears to be missing in the education of the
elite, is the belief that the rural life is morally superior to
the urban, industrial life. It is interesting in terms of nation
building that this value is absent, for many early writers on democracy,
such as Thomas Jefferson, argued that the independent farmer was
the foundation of a stable state.
Instead, the new elites seem to have become in the first few generations
what Gladwin (1980) has called “slaves of the white myth.”
They have identified with their colonialist forbears and accepted
the view that the rural, traditional populations of their countries
are backward, unsophisticated, dirty, savage.5
The new elites have also not been sufficiently exposed to the
contemporary skepticism towards progress, which views the advances
in technology and science not as having brought social and moral
progress, but worse as having unleashed destructive forces that
threaten the health and even the survival of mankind.
What the elites also did not learn was the history of the industrial
revolution in the west along with its social dislocations. It is
not surprising that this is not a subject of great interest and
perceived relevance, for most social scientists appear to suffer
from historical amnesia in this regard. Seldom in the discussions
and theories of development does one find any use of the industrialization
of the west as a model, except with regard to the economic changes.
And these ignore for the most part the social consequences, the
social impact, that industrialization had on human beings, which
illustrates the dehumanized nature of the discipline of economics.
For industrialization in the West produced massive social dislocations
that involved agrarian movements of various strengths, revolutions,
and the migration of peoples from the rural areas, flooding the
cities or moving to the New World, and the costs of these should
have and could have been included in the economic assessment of
industrialization. Whatever, in those days the problem of dislocated
populations could be solved by usurping the lands of the American
But as boundaries have closed, this process of usurpation of the
lands of others to solve the social dislocations and economic problems
of the cosmopolitan sector can now primarily be done only internally
within the state. Thus, the resettlement of the indigenous peoples
of the interior of Borneo has similarities to the development of
reservations for the North American Indians in the latter half of
the nineteenth century (see Appell 1985a, 1985b), and transmigration
of Javanese, while only within Indonesia, nevertheless has historical
similarities to the development of settlements in Canada by Scottish
noblemen for the dispossessed Scots.6
INTERESTS OF THE ELITES
Economic development of the new states also furthers the personal
interests of the new elite. With the growth of the country’s
economy, the elites are better able to increase their own economic
wealth. This can occur in acceptable ways, as with an increased
need for their services as administrators, lawyers, or other professionals,
and so forth. But the elites can increase their economic wealth
in illegal ways through taking bribes from those wanting to make
a profit from some development scheme, or by getting control of
an asset, such as a plantation, and then selling it to the government
board that manages such agricultural activities at a considerable
profit. Frequently, seeing that their country may not be as stable
as others, these elites buy homes in Europe or Australia and bank
their money there. Incredible fortunes have been amassed by various
members of the elite which appear to be out of proportion to the
economies of their countries.
POLITICS AND THE NEW POLITICAL ECONOMY
Politics abhors differentiation. The work of the politician is
made easier when the interests of his constituency are homogeneous
rather than disparate and potentially conflicting. And the larger
the group you can build with shared interests, the stronger your
political position is. Therefore, there are advantages in leveling
ethnic differentiation. But the costs of this are externalized to
the larger society, when at a later date the repression of identity
returns in violence, apathy, or other diseases of personality identity
(see Appell 1980a, n.d.).
The work of government administration is also made easier if there
is a homogeneous population in well regulated, easily accessible
villages. The costs of this to the population are not considered
in the analysis of the benefits in such moves. It is rather interesting
that in both Australia and Canada. institutions other than resettlement
have been devised to provide both education and medical services
to scattered populations so that their economy is not destroyed.
(Canada uses these techniques only in limited instances and frequently
simply relocates a population, such as has happened to the fishing
villages of the outer islands of Newfoundland with considerable
social impact on them.)
The growing authoritarianism in these new states is also related
to changes in the conceptions of the powers and capacities of governments
in the last 100 years in the West. With the liberal revolution came
the idea that governments were to be for the benefit of the governed
and under the control of the governed. And they were not to be intrusive
into the lives of citizens. However, as the discipline of economics
has matured there has grown the belief that governments can manipulate
the country’s economy so as to stimulate economic growth and
prevent the downward swings of the business cycle. Thus government
has become no longer simply a matter of defense and maintaining
As the techniques have grown to control state economies and plan
their future, states have become similar to large corporations.
They have become concerned with their national balance sheet and
operating statements, with the growth of gross national product
and the balance of trade. Government, rather than being a service
to the population, has turned the relationship on its head, and
a population now provides services to the betterment of the state
economy. The people become rather like workers in a multifaceted
factory. So the unintended outcome of the growth of economic theory
is, instead of the betterment of the individual, the growth of dehumanization
ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL THEORIES
FOR DEVELOPMENT AND MODERNIZATION
Social scientists have accepted the authoritarianism that is a
consequence of managing economies in the Third World with little
questioning, and have even contributed to it through theories that
are dehumanizing. One of these theories is that of rural underemployment,
or “disguised unemployment” (see Lewis, 1960; for a
critical analysis see Hirschman, 1981 and Arrighi, 1970). I am sure
in certain circumstances this does represent some germ of truth.
But in most indigenous societies in Southeast Asia, there is no
underemployment, unless one destroys their cultural economy. However,
as a result of this and similar theories that dehumanize the peasant,
there has grown the idea that labor service is available from such
societies, and it can be forced out in the open by various techniques
without the consultation of the governed. The point I am trying
to make here is that there is a world of difference in situations
where people want employment from situations where people are employed
sufficiently in the pursuit of their own interests and do not want
someone else to tell them what their interests should be. Theories
such as these do not sufficiently consider the interests of the
people to whom they are being applied. It is as if the over rational
economists and political scientists could not abide the rural populations
working to the glory of their own gods.
Part of the problem contributing to the growth of dehumanized
and authoritarian development theories is that the academic disciplines
have gone too far in this direction within their own sociocultural
environment, although in such familiar grounds their theories tend
to fit better than in foreign cultural environments. Such theories
translate poorly to these other cultural environments, which do
not share the same assumptions. In addition many scholars have a
peculiarly biased view of the peasant, never having soiled their
hands in such labor, much less lived for any length of time in farming
villages. Thus, Hoben (1980, p. 341) writes: “Until recently,
development planners and a majority of scholars concerned with development
assumed that the agricultural practices of low-income rural people
are governed by tradition, change only slowly, and are often poorly
adapted to local conditions. Moreover, it was assumed that traditional
rural societies were more or less static, and that their institutions
must be broken down or greatly modified because they were constraints
on more rational development.” Johnson (1980:37-38) also points
out the dangers of formal economic theories in development. He writes:
The decision whether to rely on our ready-made formal theories
or to turn to new empirical descriptions for guidance is not simply
a scientific question, but also a political one ... What makes
this a political assumption is that it joins formal economists
with change agents as allies convinced of their superior knowledge
and engaged in an effort to bring enlightenment to the less informed.
It is also a political fact that “ignorant” populations
are often poorly controlled by the central governments trying
to change them, and that the likely outcome of “successful”
change is increased central political and economic control. The
assumption that our models are more correct than those of the
actors they refer to can be taken as a license to introduce economic
change even against the wishes of the local populations, on the
grounds that the people “do not know what is good for them.”
In sum, the peasant has been viewed as not being rational or maximizing
his economic decisions. Yet, as Johnson and other contributors to
Bartlett (1980) point out, this is hardly the case. The problem
lies with the present approach of economics to development in the
agricultural sector which does not fully incorporate or comprehend
the context of decision making behavior at the village level. As
a result, Johnson argues (1980:41) economists or government officials
are mystified and frustrated “when confronted with the behavior
of particular farmers,” adding,
In fact, what is actually surprising is that anyone would think
that an abstract theory, operationalized with reference to an
industrial firm or similar limited frame, could prescribe behavior
for farmers who have lived in an environment their entire lives,
observed countless details about its soils, crops, weather, labor
supply, market prices, and government intervention, and have integrated
these experiences with cultural “rules of thumb” into
a total understanding that all our research methods in combination
can hardly fathom.”
As a result, the developer in such situations falls back on the
stereotypic explanation that the people are tradition-bound rather
than realizing that the peasant is making good economic decisions
given his decision making context. Even where, more recently, planners
recognize that the peasant is an economic maximizer, they fail to
consider the whole local context in which the decision is being
made (Hoben, 1982, p. 368), and that includes values which are not
determined by price alone. Another example of the dehumanizing aspects
of development social science is the handling of ethnicity in political
science. Connor writes (1972, p.319): “Scholars associated
with theories of ‘nation-building’ have tended either
to ignore the question of ethnic diversity or treat the matter of
ethnic identity superficially as merely one of the number of minor
impediments to effective state-integration.”7
Yet one’s social identity is a critical resource to the
individual in his adapting to his social world (see Appell, 1975a,
1980a, n.d.). Without it one is hardly human. As Bedlington, a more
perspicacious political scientist, puts it (1968, p. 564): “Ethnicity
needs to be recognized for what it is, not as a threat but a legitimate
The only scholar I am aware of who is fighting the dehumanization
of economics and economic planning by looking at the human costs
involved is Harvey Brenner, of The Johns Hopkins University. He
has conducted a number of studies showing how increased rates of
mental health, mortality, fetal, infant, and maternal mortality,
heart disease mortality, alcohol consumption and associated illnesses,
and various other health impairments are a consequence of unemployment
and economic recessions (see Brenner, 1971, 1973a, 1973b, 1975,
1976, 1977, 1979). And he concludes (1977, p. 581) that “actions
which influence national economic policy — especially the
unemployment rate — have a substantial bearing on the physical
health, mental health, and criminal aggression.” Therefore,
for example, economic policies that deal with inflation through
increasing unemployment have unintended but pernicious human consequences.
American anthropology developed the concept of culture both as
an analytical tool and an explanatory concept. It provided a variety
of intellectual services to the discipline and to those who became
convinced of the usefulness of this approach. And many thought that
one of the services to the larger society of the concept would be
to lessen both partial and complete dehumanization. It would provide
a scientific and understandable explanation to the behaviors of
indigenous peoples that had been typified as “savage,”
“dirty,” “wicked,” “childish,”
“immoral” “irrational,” “unpredictable.”
Yet in doing this, it also provided the practicing social scientist
and developer with a new club, a new form of dehumanization. For
the concept of culture is without people. In development projects
the culture then becomes a manageable problem, and the consequences
to the peoples are ignored. The culture may be inefficient, precapitalist,
a subsistence one, or some other form that requires adjustment so
that new, modern ideas in agriculture, labor service, family planning,
and village improvement can be instituted. As the locus of the problem
lies with the culture, as culture is merely learned, it can be modified
with little cost, it can be easily unlearned. What is missing is
a concept of the investment that an individual and society make
in the operation of their sociocultural system and the cost of adaptation
to new ideas, new economies, new social relations.
The concept of cultural relativism, contrary to expectations,
also may be more dehumanizing than humanizing. It ignores the biosocial
energetics (Appell, 1984) that are involved in the practice of any
cultural trait, equating all alike. Thus, septum piercing has no
different value than subincision, yet to the individual, one requires
considerably more energy expenditure than the other both during
the procedure and afterwards.
Finally, in the concept of role, anthropological theory has not
invested it with a critical human component — again its biosocial
energetics. Some roles require greater energy output to occupy them
to such a degree that the occupants have greater health impairments
or shorter lives.
ENLARGING ANTHROPOLOGICAL THEORY
We have looked at some of the ideas and beliefs that have led
to a growing authoritarianism of central governments in development
planning and a growing dehumanization of populations. And we have
sketched out the impact that this has had on the indigenous tribal
peoples of Borneo. I have also indicated that the discipline of
anthropology has not responded to this challenge, but may have unwittingly
added to the problem through the concepts of culture, cultural relativism,
role, and perhaps other concepts. How can a better theory be devised
that is not dehumanizing or authoritarian? I believe that there
are three directions that anthropological inquiry might go to solve
this problem: decision making approaches; biosocial energetics,
which I have adumbrated in my discussion of cultural investments
and adaptation; and finally ethnography in the service of tribal
Hoben (1980, p. 341-2) in contrasting the older view of development
planners and the majority of scholars, in which the peasant was
believed to be bound in tradition and making decisions on non-rational
Today, by contrast, leading scholars in diverse disciplines, including
agricultural and developmental economics, anthropology, economic
history, human geography, and rural sociology recognize that low-income
producers’ behavior must be understood as the result of recurrent
decisions about the use of productive assets, the organization of
labor, marketing, saving, and investment; ... that experimentation
with new crops and crop mixes is commonplace and attempts to introduce
major technological innovations is not unusual, even in communities
beyond the reach of extension services; ... and that many indigenous
small-scale farming systems are sensitively adjusted to local ecological,
economic, and political conditions--and their fluctuations.
Thus, decision making approaches to development build on the resources
of the local community and bring those who are being developed back
into more appropriate control over the processes. As Gladwin and
Murtaugh (1980) have shown, the local farmer has a better knowledge
of the factors that impinge on his success in agriculture than agricultural
change agents. Therefore, in planning any development project investigating
the decision-making process of the local farmer and bringing those
factors into the development process ensures more successful development.
Investments in a Sociocultural System. What is missing in anthropological
theory is a consideration of the psychobiological investment that
a culture-bearing individual has in his cultural system. It takes
time, effort, and economic support for an individual to learn his
cultural system, and this investment we will refer to as the “enculturation
A second investment that an individual has in his social world
is the time, effort, and economic support that has gone into his
learning how to operate within a specific group. For example when
an individual moves to a new village, it takes time and effort to
learn the operational culture and social relations of that village.
I will refer to this as the “social role learning investment.”
And the third investment is that which the group has incurred in
creating a functioning organization. Anyone who has led a military
unit or economic enterprise knows the time and effort that is invested
in developing the right organizational culture so that the group
operates efficiently in the pursuit of its goals. I refer to this
as the “organizational investment.”
As long as anthropological theory ignores these investments, it
cannot deal with the full human costs of social change. For on social
change these investments are lost.
Adaptation Costs. In my study of the health consequences of social
change, I presented a number of postulates (Appell n.d.). Postulate
Nine states: “Social change produces psychological loss, which,
if not managed properly can result in various dysfunctional reactions.”
I refer to these processes of adapting to the loss of a sociocultural
system as the “social bereavement syndrome.” Postulate
Ten states that “Social change of necessity creates role conflict
and ambiguity, and role conflict and ambiguity can produce health
impairment.” Postulate Eleven states: “Social change
can produce disturbances of social identity, threats to self-esteem,
and a growing aspiration-achievement gap, all of which can precipitate
health and behavioral impairments.”
I have referred to the processes set in motion by the social change
indicated in these three postulates as the “social separation
syndrome” (Appell 1980a, n.d.). And the social separation
syndrome represents the cost of extinguishing the sociocultural
investments of enculturation investment, the social role investment,
and the organizational investment.
The processes of adaptation to development involve not only the
social separation syndrome but a number of other stresses, which
precipitate psychological, physiological, and behavioral impairments.
These also have their costs both to the population and to the individual.
It is critical for anthropology to develop a better grip on these
and quantify them so that we can bring back the individual into
the central focus of our concern and prevent the continuing dehumanization
that is occurring. As it now stands the larger society benefits
from the resources of the tribal peoples and externalizes the costs
of removing the tribal group from its resources largely to the members
of the tribal group itself (Appell, 1975a, n.d.).
Ethnography in the Service of Tribal Peoples
Change brings loss, and this precipitates social bereavement.
Ethnography and its related disciplines are of critical importance
to societies being forced into rapid change, as having access to
one’s culture through ethnographic research mitigates the
worst aspects of the social bereavement syndrome (see Appell, 1980a,
Ethnography, just as importantly, gives the society being studied
some sense of its own sociocultural system so that it can objectify
it and be in a better position of control, rather than leaving the
objectification of the sociocultural system only in the hands of
the developers for purposes of manipulation (see Appell, 1977, 1978).
Finally, anthropologists must generate alternative models for
development than that based on the industrialization of the agricultural
sector, with excess rural population flooding the cities, which
seems to always include either plantation agriculture or the nuclear
family farm in a single family dwelling resident on its own plot
of land. There are other models, some more productive, which need
to be explored in the context of planning for development.
It is hard to be optimistic in my conclusions. Change could become
development rather than merely change (see Nicolaise, 1983) and
development could proceed without the stresses and strains that
now accompany it, if development were from the bottom up, if development
were less authoritarian and dehumanizing. But what chance is there
for this to happen? The variety of dehumanization and authoritarianism
that is prevalent in the larger society occurs as well in the University
and is seldom challenged. So I suspect that there will be little
change here. New theories and techniques will be developed to manipulate
people, to objectify them, to control them, without the development
of adequate controls for the protection of human interests. I am
not advocating forming a society of intellectual luddites. We must
proceed, but we must become more self-conscious of the implications
of our work. And we must develop better controls to prevent dehumanization
and better theories that rehumanize man.
I do not see in the future that the indigenous societies of the
world will be put under any less pressure of survival. The economic
interests are there to dispossess them of their inheritance and
the ideas are there to justify this. The rule of law seems to be
a casualty of economic development. And I constantly ask myself
why this must be so when there are other approaches that produce
equivalent economic gain. The new millennium either in the practice
of political economy or the theory building of the social sciences
is not about to happen. But not to fight this great injustice that
is going on today is to surrender to it.
One concluding thought, Rawls writes in his A Theory of Justice
(1971, p. 61): “These principles are to be arranged in a serial
order with the first principle prior to the second. This ordering
means that a departure from the institutions of equal liberty required
by the first principle cannot be justified by, or compensated for,
by greater social and economic advantages.”
1. “By and large, a child develops such capacity [for identification]
in direct proportion to the stability and depth of interpersonal
relations to which he is exposed” (Diamond, 197, p. 129).
2. Van Nieuwenhuijze (1984b) has reached a similar conclusion about
the dominant theme in western culture which he terms “economism.”
He writes (1984b, p. 17): “The entire syndrome is symbolized
in the nature and status of the discipline of economics, as the
privileged handmaiden of the prevailing lifestyle. The modern West
is economistic if anything. It perceives the full round of life
through the economic–if you prefer, economic-political–optique.
“Note what we are discussing here is culture, nothing else.
The term ‘economism’ provides a valid description of
Western civilization [in]... the modern period.”
3. The economists’ overdependence on price and insensitivity
to value was nicely illustrated several years ago on a Public Broadcasting
System radio program in which an economist compared the cost of
raising a child with the cost of owning a boat, framing this in
terms of an economic choice!
4. Individualism... “disposes each citizen to isolate himself
from the mass of his fellows and to draw apart with his family and
friends”; it “at first saps only the virtues of public
life, but, in the long run, ... attacks and destroys all the others
and is eventually absorbed into pure egoism” (Tocqueville,
De la democratie en Amerique , Bk.II, Pt. II, Ch.II; quoted
in Lukes 1973, p. 595).
5. The response of Indonesians to the wearing of loincloths by
the indigenous peoples of Kalimantan is incredible. They view these
as symbols of licensed savagery, incredible backwardness, and force
the locals to change their dress, and even give them shorts, some
of which are more sexually indecorous than loincloths (see Appell,
6. One wonders about the source of the highly self-interested personality
that is sometimes found among the elites of new states, which seems
to contribute to growing corruption. Is it a product of faulty child-rearing
in which the individual’s conscience has not been fully developed;
the acceptance of economic fundamentalism without the internal controls
that one might have gotten as a child growing up in western culture;
the over recruitment of opportunists when the opportunity structure
opened up at the end of colonialism (see Appell, 1980b); and/or
a faulty administrative system that has not had sufficient controls
built in to it, and which were perhaps not needed when administrators
were trained in the later stages of colonialism for service to others?
7. Van Nieuwenhuijze (1984a, p. 8) writes with regard to the problem
of ethnic identity that “the standing perception of development
happens to have a blind eye” to the cultural dimension of
8. The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center in the Northwest
Territories of Canada, under the directorship of Dr. Robert Janes,
is a critically important illustration of what can be done to mitigate
the impact of social bereavement through the creative involvement
of indigenous peoples in their ethnography, history, and archaeology
and in the development of indigenously controlled local museums
(see Janes, 1982). In my judgment the social turmoil arising from
social change in Third World countries might be mitigated if similar
approaches were used.
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