Monday, 6 November 2000

From "The Innocent Anthropologist"

By Nigel Barley.

In the end I managed to lay my hands on some postcards depicting African fauna. I had at least a lion and a leopard and showed them to people to see if they could spot the difference. Alas, they could not. The reason lay not in their classification of animals but rather in the fact that they could not identify photographs. It is a fact we tend to forget in the West that people have to learn to be able to see photographs. We are exposed to them from birth so that, for us, there is no difficulty in identifying faces or objects from all sorts of angles, in differing light and even with distorting lenses. Dowayos have no such tradition of visual art; theirs is limited to a bands of geometric designs.

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