In the necessary struggle to abandon the purely Eurocentric, history and the other social sciences have frequently lost touch with reality in recent years. This has contributed to the creation of a multiplicity of tribalisms, including numerous interpretations that favor the conquered and oppressed in ways similar to earlier, unreflective allegiance given the conquerors. From an epic tradition delineated by David Quint as glorifying the conquerors and their "justice," historical studies, in an attempt to represent the "losers" adequately, have sometimes waxed romantic in recent years, mourning the passage of all-toohuman cultures as repeated expulsions from the Garden of Eden.1 Thus, even though José Rabasa, in his thought-provoking Inventing America, admires Bernardino de Sahagún for inscribing Aztec "ethnicity in spite of (and as a result of) a tension that arises from the need to use European discourse to express ideas foreign to it" and writes that Inventing America has no intention to "reduce subalternity to some kind of privileged perspective on power and oppositional consciousness," he still ends his study by attacking the Jesuit ethnographer Joseph de Acosta (ca. 1539-1600). Rabasa argues that despite its religious language, Acosta's evolutionary model of development for the Americas
in substance still informs nineteenth- and twentieth-century anthropologies and theories of development. Indeed, the "let's save brown women and little folk from abusive brown men" syndrome can still be heard among theorists of development who have only recently come to postulate patriarchy as a specifically noncapitalist social formation; now it is not missionaries who come to rescue but multinational corporations.2
For better or worse, Rabasa still selects a privileged position within contemporary twentieth-century struggles for power, and his defense of "brown men" is indicative of the persistence of traps that would make reason serve political,
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Publication information: Book title: Brutality and Benevolence:Human Ethology, Culture, and the Birth of Mexico. Contributors: Abel A. Alves - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 1.
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