By Claude Alvares
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Additional resources for Decolonising History: Technology and Culture in India, China, and the West from 1492 to the Present Day
And by culture, Geertz has in mind much more than the mere perfection for tools. It also includes the adoption of organized hunting and gathering practices, the beginnings of true family organization, the discovery of fire, and most critically, “though it is as yet extremely difficult to trace it out in any detail, the increasing reliance upon systems of significant symbols (language, art, myth, ritual) for orientation, communication, and self-control”. All created for man a new environment to which he was then obliged to adapt.
In the foreword to his volume of a similar title, which speaks for itself and the theme of his book, he wrote: A happier age than ours once made bold to call our species by the name of Homo Sapiens. In the course of time we have come to realize that we are not reasonable after all as the Eighteenth Century, with its worship of reason and its naive optimism taught us; hence modern fashion inclines to designate our species as homo faber: Man the Maker. But though faber may not be quite so dubious as sapiens, it is, as a name specific of the human being, even less appropriate, seeing that many animals too are makers.
We need a term or phrase which, while remaining simple, would agree to contain a large reservoir of interconnected meanings, including those identified with man as he makes, builds, constructs, invents, fabricates or creates his world. We are interested in artefacts, and these are not to be restricted to tools and machines. Languages, thought systems and symbols are also artefacts, for they sprang into existence only after man began to walk the earth. Man extinguished, artefacts fall, meanings disintegrate, only natural events remain.
Decolonising History: Technology and Culture in India, China, and the West from 1492 to the Present Day by Claude Alvares