Fieldwork today or cultural theft ? (part 4)

Diego Quesada dquesada at
Fri Feb 7 17:54:41 UTC 1997

On Fri, 7 Feb 1997, Michael Everson wrote:

> What I get from your message, quite simply, is that you believe I haven't
> the right to do what I am doing because I wasn't born a minority or a
> native speaker of an endangered language. I could easily have stayed in the
> university. I felt it stifling. But had I stayed there I might well have
> turned my talents in the same direction I have anyway.

Sorry; I disagree with that egocentric point of view. If it's a law, rule,
or whatever you want to call it of the Maori that they and only they have
that right, I guess we have to respect that and not impose our standards
on them. Cultural respect begins by acknowledging each culture's beliefs.

How many people, the so-called "Auslaender" in Germany especially, feel it
a bit chauvinistic -to say the least- that "Deutschtum" is a right aquired
by blood: a German couple migrates to Mars, have a child in Jupiter, who
grows up in Saturn and then moves to Venus, where s/he stays forever; his
grandchildren then move to Uranus and their children decide one day to
come to live on earth. You bet! Those are Germans right away, I guess
they'd call them "Raumsiedler", but speak no German, don't eat sausages
and don't drink beer. But the Germany-born son of an immigrant Turkish
family, speaks better (and many times only) German, has lived there all
his life but will NEVER be one. Are we going to tell the Germans that they
should do as in the U.S. or Canada? If not, why tell the Maoris to stop
that view on the right to deal with their culture?

J. Diego Quesada
U of Toronto

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