The Astonishing Life Of Ota Beng An Analysis

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In order to successfully pursue a career in the field of anthropology, one must possess an open mind and be prepared to dismiss all traces of ethnocentrism. Cultural anthropologists attempt to understand different cultures through the utilization of ethnography which enables anthropologists to obtain qualitative research through mechanisms such as participation and observation where they not only observe and record individuals of different cultures but may even participate in their ongoing activities. Additional methods include the use of key informants and interviews. While this field is significant in understanding human behavior in order to collectively solve pressing matters, some anthropologists fail to comprehend the damage they are …show more content…
The corruption associated with anthropological work is demonstrated in the discrimination against people of foreign culture. This is subsequently a result of a lack of comprehension and tolerance of deviations from the norm. In the article “The astonishing life of Ota Benga” by Pamela Newkirk, Newkirk demonstrates the injustice and unethical behavior that Ota Benga, a native inhabitant of the Congo was subjected to. Anthropologists and scientists disregarded his humanity and concluded that his analogous peculiarities to an ape were a direct result of the evolutionary bridge between ape and man. Ota Benga, a human, with equal autonomy, emotions, and thoughts to that of any human, was placed into an iron cage like an animal and sold for exhibition to the Bronx Zoo after first appearing at an anthropology exhibit. He was an object of observation and humiliation and was forced to endure the horrendous stenches that ejected out of his neighboring monkey’s bodies. All this for what anthropologists considered “the perfect example of culture and civilization” (Newkirk, 16). Ota Benga was confined to a cage because at the time anthropologists were highly fixated on what made people different and were evidently convinced that individuals such as Ota Benga indisputably exhibited the characteristics and capacities of those at the bottom of the ladder of cultural evolution. They strongly believed in savagery-barbarism-civilization which implied that white males resided at the top of the ladder and every other group of people had catching up to do in order to reach their level. Hence, because Ota Benga did not align with the capacities and characteristics of that of a white male, his species was questioned and his confinement and exploitation was justified and widely

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