Fieldwork today or cultural theft ? (part 5)

Michael Everson everson at
Fri Feb 7 19:58:14 UTC 1997

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At 13:00 -0500 1997-02-07, Diego Quesada wrote:
>On Fri, 7 Feb 1997, Michael Everson wrote:
>> >It has nothing to do with skin-color, rather, it is birthright.
>> Birthright. "A right of possession or privilege on has from birth, esp. as
>> the eldest son." (Concise Oxford Dictionary)
>  There you go! Eurocentricity at its best. Why don't you ask Peter
>what their definition of birthright is? It may not be on paper in a Maori
>Concise Dictionary but sure it's somewhere in their historic memory.

Honestly, Diego, Peter used the term and I wondered what it meant, so I
looked it up. To try to understand what he was on about. Not to impose
anything on anybody. (Us.un diccionario ingl. (de Inglaterra, en Europa,
.claro!) porque hablamos ingl..)

>> Birthright. Birthright? Rights because of where and what and to whom you
>> were born? Rights denied others because of where and what and to whom they
>> were born? "Speaking for Maori" is not the same thing as "speaking about
>> Maori", I suppose.
>  What's wrong with that? Didn't George Bush outrage Panama because
>apparently a US person was "harassed" there?

I'm afraid I don't follow this reasoning (nor do I know about the incident
you mention). But Peter seemed to be saying that only Maori or the
Maori-approved could speak for the Maori (which seems fair enough) and that
only Maori or the Maori-approved could really know anything or speak about
the Maori (which is what I thought a bit objectionable, given my own --
very rewarding and useful -- experience working with lesser-used languages
and scripts in the computer technology field).

>> But I don't know if such rights are inherent. I think your statement is not
>> quite in synch with, at least, the freedoms specified in the United
>> Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948
>  Neither is the practice of certain leaders of the so-called
>democracies, to impose their views on others: blockade on Cuba (sin: a
>wish for sovereingty), coup in Chile (sin: a democratically elected
>president), invasion of Panama (sin: make sure that the Canal Agreement is
>respected), the list is endless.

I don't think those events have much to do with my work for linguistic
minorities or with the (possibly solid and useful) work of the two
non-Maori researchers who didn't read their papers at the conference, which
is what we started talking about.

It is clear that the UDHR is underimplemented in our world, we certainly
agree on that.

Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta
15 Port Chaeimhghein .ochtarach; Baile .tha Cliath 2; .ire (Ireland)
Guth.n:  +353 1 478-2597, +353 1 283-9396
27 P.rc an Fh.thlinn; Baile an; Co. .tha Cliath; .ire

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