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  • 3:22 am on November 28, 2003 Permalink | Reply  

    Maasai Identity as a Subject of Tourism 

    Yongho Kim
    Anthropology 258: African Societies
    November 28, 2003

    The Maasai[1] are Maa-speaking, pastoral groups spread throughout the Rift Valley in Kenya and Tanzania. The Maasai have been subject of numerous scholastic inquiries and critical analyses that challenge the theoretical assumptions underlying the expressions “The Maasai”, “Maasai are”, “Maa-speaking”, “pastoral” and “groups” from the previous sentence. Some of these challenges will form part of several arguments in this paper.

    This paper links two fields of research normally carried out under the divisions of “ethnicity” and “tourism”. My central claim is that intensive and prolonged encounter with the West through tourism and a series of dialectic dialogues following such relationships has shaped in the present a certain notion of identity among the Maasai themselves that affirms the very existence of the Maasai as a group vis-à-vis a subject of the tourist industry – the person at the other side of the camera.

    Theoretically, this task relies on the arguments carried forward by Galaty, Appiah, and Bruner. Through Galaty, ethnic identity is recognized as a flexible concept. Appiah challenges modernist accounts of culture as an alternative to race by noting the illusion of ethnohistoricity and arguing that discourse of culture is a continuation from the discourse of race. Bruner identifies cultural authenticity as a key theme underlying the tourist discourse. My contribution is in putting the three theorists in a conversation and establishing a parallel between cultural authenticity and racial affirmation.

    Ethnographic material supporting this thesis consists of three books written by Western-educated Maasai about their own groups. Saitoti’s two books, Maasai and The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior, reflect a transition period where the claim to an ethnic identity shifts from that of resistance against intruding political forces – British and Kenyan – to that of affirmation of authenticity. A comparison of Satitoti’s perspective with Lekuton’s autobiography, Facing the Lion, reveals the complex and multilayered response to an emerging discourse of the tourist industry, where authenticity is endorsed as a renewed substitute to the traditional. In other words, being traditional is not enough, for the tourist wants the “real” tradition, an authentic one.

    Is this new paradigm of ethnic identity among the Maasai a form of resistance? – Is it subordination to the global political economy embodied in tourism? Whatever it may be, the Maasai perform it most excellently.

    (More …)

  • 11:34 pm on November 21, 2003 Permalink | Reply  


    Yongho Kim
    Anthropology (248) of Religion
    November 21, 2003

    Moore and Sanders tell us that witchcraft refers to hidden forces in the world and presumes a dynamic of power. Discuss any three defining characteristics of witchcraft in contemporary Africa. Now compare witchcraft with ANY OTHER hidden force in the world that presumes a dynamic of power – how are they similar? How do they differ?

    In the ethnographies read so far, I could identify several patterns arising cross-socially within instances of witchcraft or witchcraft accusation. Among them are the assumptions of invisible realities, the articulation with state power, and its close relationship with economic exploitation.

    (More …)

  • 1:29 am on November 19, 2003 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Re-appropriate Dead White Men 

    Wow.. there are currently 9 seniors in that intro HCST class.

  • 11:41 am on November 14, 2003 Permalink | Reply  

    Outline: Maasai Identity 

    Yongho Kim
    Anthro 258: African Societies
    November 14, 2003

    In my topic proposal, my research question has been this: How do the younger generations of Maasai view themselves [in the context of generational gap, education, “tradition”, tourism and authenticity] in relation to elders and the urban Kenyan society?

    Based on readings, I have come to identify the self as a subject of tourism as an answer to the question. (More …)

  • 11:32 pm on November 12, 2003 Permalink | Reply  


    Yongho Kim
    November 12, 2003
    Anthropology (248) of Religion

    Pascal Boyer tells us that fundamentalism is neither religion in excess nor politics in disguise. According to Boyer, what IS fundamentalism? According to YOU, what is fundamentalism–on what points do you agree with Boyer and on what points do you disagree?

    In a sense, fundamentalism can be said to be a contemporary device performing a role similar to the one literacy performed: that of securing the survival of institutionalized religion. On the other hand, fundamentalism complements a brand in that while a brand attracts people with it stability, fundamentalism retains those who joined with its dynamism.

    (More …)

  • 4:18 pm on November 7, 2003 Permalink | Reply  

    Minow and Gourevitch: Human Rights as a recovery of Humanity 

    Yongho Kim
    INTL245: Human Rights
    November 7, 2003

    Gourevitch’s We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families is a powerful account of the genocide in Rwanda, an analysis of certain key concepts in issues of mass violations of human rights, and an outcry to the international community and the institutionalized humanitarian effort to aid those in need. Gourevitch believes that anybody stepping into Rwanda has some form of impact and responsibility in the genocide and its aftermath, and calls on to states and organizations to examine human rights situations more closely.

    Minow’s Between Vengeance and Forgiveness, on the other hand, encompasses a range of well known cases, including the cases of Yugoslavia, Chile, Rwanda, and South Africa from a comparative perspective. While focusing in the institutionalized response to violations, she addresses challenges faced by two contemporary mechanisms that deal with massive violations: namely, Truth Commissions and Courts.

    Each of these mechanisms embody a particular theme within the Human Rights movement, which I have chosen as the guiding themes for this paper: those of truth and justice. At the core of both themes, runs the question of humanity. Neither mechanism can work properly – to offer justice and reparations to victims – without critically assessing the sincerity of the apology, recognition, or sorrow and regret of the perpetrator. A shared experience of humanity in both the victim and perpetrator in the final act of reconciliation constitutes a minimum requisite before any act of amnesty or institutionalized forgiveness.

    Minow is more concerned about the relationship between victims and perpetrators and the post-mass-violence world in general; accordingly, she deals with the theoretical issues arising within such contexts: What does disobeying or obeying an unhuman law entail? Can amnesty be transactioned for truth? In what form should reparations take place? And ultimately, is human dignity upheld in the process? Minow analyzes such dilemmas using an array of theoretical approaches, and in this paper I have tried to identify specific applications Gourevitch makes of such ideological devices identified by Minow.
    (More …)

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