"Whitemen" are good to think with: How Orokaiva morality is reflected on whitemen's skin

Authors
Citation
I. Bashkow, "Whitemen" are good to think with: How Orokaiva morality is reflected on whitemen's skin, IDENTITIES, 7(3), 2000, pp. 281-332
Citations number
81
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Sociology & Antropology
Journal title
IDENTITIES-GLOBAL STUDIES IN CULTURE AND POWER
ISSN journal
1070-289X → ACNP
Volume
7
Issue
3
Year of publication
2000
Pages
281 - 332
Database
ISI
SICI code
1070-289X(200009)7:3<281:"AGTTW>2.0.ZU;2-6
Abstract
The construction of whiteness by Orokaiva people in Papua New Guinea parall els in many ways the western construction of race that was imposed on them during a century of historical engagement with western powers. But its prem ises and moral concerns arise out of contemporary Orokaiva culture, and its moral ambiguities reflect the complex racial dynamic of the postcolonial s ituation. Orokaiva interpret the whiteness of whitemen's skin as a highly-c harged quality of "brightness" that is associated with the visibility and a ttractiveness of western commodity wealth. in the indigenous moral economy, whitemen's brightness and wealth signify an absence of the moral problems of jealousy, sorcery, theft, and violence that prevent Orokaiva individuals from developing and maintaining wealth at a level beyond that of their pee rs. Although there are also ways in which Orokaiva inferiorize whitemen, co nstructing them in opposition to indigenous virtues like generosity, in the quality of brightness Orokaiva construct whitemen as a moral other that is "good to think with" as a foil for Orokaiva criticisms of themselves and t heir society. Through the symbolism of whitemen, Orokaiva blame themselves and their race for their subordinate position in the world economy; pet, at the same time, they assert the primacy of local relations and local moral problems, and in so doing, they effectively construct "the whiteman" as a c ultural other that projects essential dimensions of their own non-capitalis t ethos onto a wider world, thereby protecting their own ethos and resistin g forms of inequality that capitalism promotes.