Tag Archives: ethics

After ‘Firstness’–the challenge of generative anthropology

Eric Gans represents a school of ‘generative anthropology’ that is concerned with the originary scene of culture in sacrifice and the invention of language. This field is informed particularly by the theories of scapegoating developed by Rene Girard. Gans coopts this approach to argue against ‘victimary’ thinking in Western liberalism. He defends the idea that the unique flame of civilisation was ignited by the Jewish religion, and subsequently carried by the West in the development of technology and market capitalism.

In a recent article about Bruno Latour, Haven’t we always been modern?, he argues for the privilege of ‘firstness’ shared by the ‘developed’ world.

The ‘developing’ world, whatever the varieties of its cultures, offers no alternative visions of nature, let alone modes of relating subject and object, to challenge the structures of modernity and its global marketplace. Its resentments of the ‘hegemonic’ West, justified or not, are wholly ethical.

While aligned with certain fundamentalist values, Gans sophisticated argument may be useful to further develop southern thinking. Is ‘firstness’ a unilateral status? Can the West be seen to represent a superior technological facility, but an inferior form of social cohesion? Can criticisms of the West be dismissed as merely ethical? Is not ethics a limiting condition on all systems?

After the Missionaries

Please note the following events related to ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink.

FORUM Has the world changed?

  • Has the Kyoto Protocol changed how rich and poor countries relate to each other?
  • Is Australia moving away from the Anglosphere?
  • Is the Global Financial Crisis a time to look at alternative economic models?
  • Is ethical the new black?
  • Have artists changed in how they related to the world around them?

You are invited to join a discussion in real time with live people in the same space. These people will include contributors to the ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink. With luck, there will also be some copies, hot of the press.

TIME: 6.00 -8.00 pm Wednesday 10 June
PLACE: Domain House, Birdwood Drive, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
For more information, click here. To submit a question, email here.

This conversation is in association with the exhibition Journey to the Surface of the Earth (22 May – 16 June) featuring Tony Adams, Caroline Banks, Jasmine Cairns, Chaco Cato, Domenico de Clario, Daniel Gustav Cramer, Carla Dinale, Sarah Farquharson, Dean Glanville, Alice Hardie-Grant, Chiho Hasegawa, Madeline Hook, Elliot Howard, Ash Keating, Courtney Lubrooke, Alya Manzart, Dylan Martorell, Charissa Maria, Katarina Matic, Darren Munce, Jacinta Murphy, Lindsay Parkhowell, Roberta Nelson, Anna Noonan, Elizabeth Presa, Joel Ralston, Annie Sumner, Joseph Scott, Lisa Wilson. This exhibition forms the outcome of an inter-disciplinary seminar at the Centre for Ideas (Southbank) taught by Elizabeth Presa and Elliot Howard. This event itself occurs in the context of Evolution – the Festival and the Amnesty of Ideas program of Southern Perspectives.

LAUNCH After the Missionaries issue of Artlink

The ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink will be formally launched at Craft Victoria, Saturday 20 June 4pm, by Dr Connie Zheng, senior lecturer in management at RMIT and expert in how Chinese do business. This will be preceded by a forum on working with traditional artisans (for more details, see here).

THEREAFTER ‘After the Missionaries’

There will be an opportunity to reflect on the questions raised by After the Missionaries at the Institute of Postcolonial Studies (early September, date to be advised).

Copies of Artlink will be on sale from 15 June.