Tuesday, 21 December 2010

An Oddness

“[G]o back far enough in history and no group outside Olduvai, in eastern Africa, can lay claim to being truly ‘native’.” [1] 

How long will we have to put up with the sinister eccentricities of these beautiful-souled, would-be race-killers? Likely until either they or their target-groups have been destroyed. In the meantime, amongst other things, we may grapple with their oddities, though I must admit that I am stuggling to understand the sense of this one. Here we are faced with the mystery of how the truth of a land’s not existing three million years ago could mean that no group is native to it when it does exist. Normally one would hold that nativeness to an ethnic group falls within an ethnic category; and that nativeness to an ancestral land or polity falls within an ethnic-territorial or geopolitical category, but here the belief seems to be that no group is native even to its own homeland unless it lives in the same geographical space that was once occupied by a different group first-ancestrally related to it, despite that the group may be of another species, despite that first-ancestorhood depends on what group is being considered, and despite that it is groups in the first place which form the ethnic-territorial bounds wherein they are normally understood to be native. As I say, it is odd, weird even, but then our beautiful-souled fellows aren’t normal, and reasonableness, one may be sure, is not high amongst their priorities.

[1] James Mackay and David Stirrup, “There is no such thing as an ‘indigenous’ Briton”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 20th December 2010.


The 27th Comrade said...

The thing is, in that case, we arrive at the absurd situation where nobody is native. As things go, the present Africans are not natives, because the curly hair type is a very recent mutation, such that among all mammals only we have it, and it is not present among those humans who migrated out of Africa sooner.

The point being that even the Africans today who walk the Olduvai Gorge are “invaders”, because even they are not native.

Now, in token agreement with that author (and it amazes me how you manage to endure these things day in day out), the extreme British purists, who think that Britain’s natives are only those who fit the description of a Brit of 200 years ago, are wrong. The definition of British native is always in flux; especially after your empire came into being. It may in fact be the purist extremes of the conservative arm that are leading to the reductio ad absurdum that manifests itself in such comical nonsense as the quoted author expresses.

dearieme said...

Ah well. And to think that genetic tests have been found that can distinguish people from neighbouring European villages.

Still, science is a social construct, eh?

Anonymous said...

Of course, this would also mean that Native Americans (Indians, to us old guys) are not natives either, along with all of the other over-romanticized "indigenous peoples" but somehow I doubt that this will be stressed in the Guardian...


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