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"Robber's Cave" Redux

Thanks to andrewducker

The Ideology Is Not The Movement | Slate Star Codex

This is a great piece and, sadly, too true....

Tribes are early forms of human social organization.  For 90+ percent of human experience they were the basis of organized human life whenever a group outgrew its basic family and clan origins.  I personally began to take interest in "tribes" (who, of course, never used that term to describe themselves) when i noticed that they were by and large dismissed by the interspirituality movement.  Emphasis was on the so-called "great" religions which have become part of the cuttures of states.  Tribal "religions" are implicitly. and sometimes explicitly, dismissed as less transformative, more "concrete" and "shallow."  In my opinion, there are no essential development in religion or spirituality which were not present in the animistic and shamanistic.

It is also incorrect to refer to the problems that people in groups cause for themselves, their groups, and other people and groups as "tribalism."  Tribes are relatively free of the conflict and blind loyalties and hatreds that are attributed to tribalism; better call it "ehnocentrism," or "nationalism," or "patriotism," or even "collective egotism."

As  middle aged graduate students in 1965, publication of the Robber's Cave experiment was still fairly fresh in our minds and was frequently discussed.  I do not remember the word "tribalism" ever being used, though it might have been in Sherif's publication.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2016 11:40 am (UTC)
That really is pretty odd usage of the term "tribe," isn't it?


Tangent: When I was in seminary, performance artist / odd person / friend D., who sometimes appear in his persona as Sister Who, took a class on Native American Spiritualities. He told me that the instructor had got angry with him because he wanted to refer to gay men, or a subset of gay men, as a tribe. He was very tearful and hurt. I suspect that the instructor was crosswise with him for the rest of the quarter (and he was always a rather awkward presence in classes). I am afraid he may have taken the class exclusively because of the word "tribe."
Apr. 7th, 2016 09:39 pm (UTC)
I have not been as curious as i should have been about the appearance of new words and new connnotations and denotations of existing words. I am sure that non-linguistic factors, such as power and prestige must get into the mix somehow. But language is a pretty organic process and just because a linguistic change might be more just or accurate or rational does not mean that it will occur (or vice versa). Many North American first peoples groups prefer the term "nation" as self descriptive.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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