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Traditional economies in the financial crisis

12 February, 2009

We love it when anthropologists write for major news publications (even if sometimes it seems that these publications only think anthropologists are suited to writing about exotic tribes and bizarre practices).  In Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Kirk Huffman, an anthropologist at Sydney’s Australian Museum, wrote an article about how the Vanuatu economy is faring amidst the global financial crisis.

Yet as we know from other discussions here on Culture Matters, academics who write for the media often see their work edited significantly and meanings changed.  Dr Huffman tells us that the SMH maintained the general spirit of the piece, but still did its share of editing, including cutting the very last sentence from the article, which read:

“He started to turn away, quickly turned back, laughed and said, ‘But not too many of them, eh, one is enough!'”

They cut off the punchline!!  That last line makes the difference between reading the Vanuatu chief as innocent, well-meaning do-gooder who wants to save the world, and someone a lot wittier and savvier than the term “do-gooder” usually implies.

–L.L. Wynn

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