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Primitive errors

The "primitive" is a figment of the western mind. Someone should have told Chirac

By Adam Kuper   August 2006

To Chirac’s surprise, anthropologists did not applaud this new relativism. They were particularly unhappy with the use of the term “primitive.” It was insulting. It was also difficult, if not impossible, to define. They were not mollified when the president suggested an alternative designation—the Musée des Arts Premières. Was he perhaps confusing an ethnographic showcase with a museum of upper Palaeolithic archaeology? Nor were they persuaded that the modern European notion of “art” was an appropriate description for the fabrics, stools, decorations, weapons and canoes that Chirac wished to put on display. Finally, they pointed out, Paris already had two…

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