In Indian Givers and Native Roots, renowned anthropologist Jack Weatherford opened the eyes of tens of thousands of readers to the clash between Native American and European cultures. Now, in his brilliant new book, Weatherford broadens his focus to examine how civilization threatens to obliterate unique tribal and ethnic cultures around the world -- and in the process imperils its own existence.
As Weatherford explains, the relationship between "civilized" and "savage" peoples through history has encompassed not only violence, but also a surprising degree of cooperation, mutual influence, trade, and intermarriage. But this relationship has now entered a critical stage everywhere in the world, as indigenous peoples fiercely resist the onslaught of a global civilization that will obliterate their identities. Savages and Civilization powerfully demonstrates that our survival as a species is based not on a choice between savages and civilization, but rather on a commitment to their vital coexistence.
Anthropologist Weatherford ( Indian Givers ) ranges through vast stretches of history and geography in this interesting but disappointing survey of the relationship between tribal peoples and ``so-called civilized peoples of the cities.'' Although the study is structured almost like a textbook, Weatherford's fluid style elevates his descriptions in the initial section, ``Tribal Culture,'' on the foraging life of Australian aborigines, the domestication of animals and the beginning of slavery. In the second section, ``National Culture,'' the author focuses on the city of Djenne in Mali to track the rise of urbanization, nationalism and attendant problems--environmental, political and social. Lastly, in ``World Culture,'' he criticizes Westerners for romanticizing tribal societies, explores the growing ethnic tensions of the modern era and argues that detribalized ``cultural castaways'' threaten every society. Weatherford's argument that the city will no longer serve as a center of civilization is debatable, and his concluding plea for mutual respect and cultural autonomy throughout the world needs to be accompanied by political analysis.