Wednesday, June 24

Am I an imperialist?

I have been asked some good questions my move to Bangladesh -- questions concerned about imposing Western values onto another culture.  That I, as a Western women human rights advocate, am forcing ideas and beliefs on another culture.

Exploring the evils of ethnocentrism is covered in Anthropology 101.  But it's one thing to discuss in a classroom, and then put into practice in a very foreign country.  

I consider myself very academically sensitive to modern imperialism (if you interested more, please email me and I will send you my thesis). My intent is to go to Bangladesh not as an imperialist but as an ally.  There are Bengali women on the ground fighting  to stop trafficking, the victims themselves wish for better options and lives for themselves, their families and their trafficked peers.  In the end, it comes down to voice and the ability to have it heard.  I go to Bangladesh on this project to support them, learn about them and exchange with them to find the best ways for them to achieve their goals.  I lend my voice and writing to their cause.

Of course, my intentions are not what always will happen: there will be people who will view me as an imperialist and find my presence unwanted.  I must respect it and be ready to step away, no matter how passionately I feel.

However, above my role as an anthropologist - I am a human, and a humanitarian. If atrocities continue, I won't go down without a fight.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points, and very encouraging to this Soc/Anthro major. :) Whoever called you an imperialist has their info wrong.