The Copy without the Original

Ethnography brushed up against its paradoxical death in 1971, the day when the Philippine government decided to return the few dozen Tasaday who had just been discovered in the depths of the jungle, where they had lived for eight centuries without any contact with the rest of the species, to their primitive state, out of the reach of colonizers, tourists, and ethnologists. This is the suggestion of the anthropologists themselves, who were seeing the indigenous people disintegrate immediately upon contact, like mummies in the open air.

In order for ethnography to live, its object must die; by dying, the object takes its revenge for being “discovered” and with its death defies the science that wants to grasp it.

~ Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation

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