The EEC in Africa = Advocate or Adversary?

The EEC, European Economic Community, means nothing but the best.  They, made up of the cream of the crop from their respective countries and regions’ anthropological and social sectors.  They seek to help Africans preserve their history through a series of museum installations across the dark continent.  The organization has gained much support throughout the EU, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East for their efforts to assist the people of Africa in the preservation of their cultural heritage. 

“In 2008,” the EEC has been credited with opening “the re-vamped Kenya National Museum…opened with great fanfare” (Miller, 2012, p.322).  I personally can attest to the eagerness of Kenyans to learn about their heritage.  However, I have come to understand through rooming with a Swahili gentlemen in University that much of their preservation is through that of oral tradition.

Much of the arguments against and criticisms that the EEC have accrued are merely that of “whether objects from non-Western cultures should be exhibited, like western art objects, with little or no ethnographic context” (Miller, 2012, p.322).  To me, the very nature of this argument is embedded in that still of ethnocentric-isms.  It fails to rise to the occasion of addressing this issue.

Perhaps the most pressing issue for cultural anthropologists, ethnographers, linguists, and especially cultural preservationists is to what extent are these museums effecting the oral tradition that many of these cultures have come to rely on?  Is there a wall somewhere to which all village elders are speaking their last indegenous words?

Source: Barbara Miller, “Cultural Anthropology,” (Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2012).


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