Colonialism, Savages, and Terrorism

Ter Ellingson

in The Myth of the Noble Savage

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520222687
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925922 | DOI:
Colonialism, Savages, and Terrorism

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The ideas both of the Noble Savage and of an anthropological science of human diversity grew out of the writings of Renaissance European traveler-ethnographers. Both can be traced at least to the beginning of the seventeenth century, where they appear together in Marc Lescarbot's ethnography of the Indians of eastern Canada. Lescarbot was one of the most complex and interesting ethnographic writers of the French colonial enterprise. The unexpected reframing by the Indians, for example, of the French psalm singing into one side of an Indian war-song duel between opposing tribes is as striking a case of “ethnographic” transformation as any European construction of Indians as the inhabitants of a “golden age.” But Lescarbot's work became even more complex and interesting when it passed beyond travel narrative to systematic ethnography, and to serious analysis of the nature of “savage” society.

Keywords: savage cruelty; Europeans; Marc Lescarbot; ethnographic writer; French colony; Noble Savage; Indians; Eastern Canada

Chapter.  4340 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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