Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Angus on the "Human Zoo"

Angus notes that packaged "culture" in less developed countries ("Let's go see the monkeys, and the lions, and then the humans dressed in colorful costumes!") is demeaning.

Interesting problem. Actually three problems.

1. Yes, it's likely demeaning to perform (possibly fake) native dances for leering white people.
2. Yes, those folks likely do need the money. They would be even worse off if they did not have this opportunity.
3. Yes, Angus does that right to say, "I don't enjoy this!" and go do something else.

The problem is that the BATNA of the "native dancers" is so abject, so destitute, that it seems exploitative. Is it?

I would add one thing: consider this "aboriginal dance," in Oz. Just who is laughing at whom? This is VERY uncomfortable, and I would have left this "performance." But it is by no means clear that the performers are not mocking the audience.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?