Interview with the English Professor Alan Macfarlane

juillet 20th, 2013

By: Rachid Filali 

-Dear Professor

A number of researchers emphasize that the anthropological and ethnological research filled with racist terminology such as the concept of “race”, what is your opinion in this conclusion sir?

*Anthropologists once believed in ‘races’. But many of them, in particular American such as Franz Boas and Margaret Mead did a great deal to question the concept of blood races. Few anthropologists today talk about ‘races’.

- The anthropological research in the field is very stressful, as happened with you in Nepal, what is the secret that made ​​this research continues sir, is it scientific curiosity or is there another motive such as access to the highest scientific titles, fame, etc.?

*Yes, anthropological fieldwork, like much academic work, is very stressful. Our motives are always mixed, and mine was as well. It was a mixture of curiosity, intellectual excitement, desire to cross academic boundaries, a return to a country and people not dissimilar to my childhood in Assam, and, of course, earning qualifications if I ever wanted to be an academic.

- Your book about tea is very important, Is For these reasons, nutrition scientists reveals that dishes contribute substantially to the formation of peoples’ personalities?

*Yes, tea has many effects – including, it is believed, making people more calm (as the English and Chinese). It also has enormous effects on health – probably the most important plant in the world in terms of preventing water-borne and other diseases.

-                    There is a common saying that history is written by the powerful, Professor Alan, As a famous historian, this analysis is true scientifically?

*As usual, this is half true. It tends to be the victors and powerful who write the history – or at least whose history dominates. But there have been examples of the weaker also writing the history and their views finally being accepted – Jesus, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi are famed examples.

- Dear Professor Alan Macfarlane , you wrote several very important research on the practice of witchcraft and sorcery in England, do you think that modernity brought rupture” with these superstitious practices in the Western mind or whether they still exist, but in other ways?

*We still need explanations of why terrible things happen to us. We also often seem to need people to blame and to hate. So although witchcraft beliefs are out of fashion, there are many situations where something similar, for example ‘the war on Evil’, the ‘battle against the terrorists’ etc, overlap with the witchcraft period.

- Dear Professor, why do not deep research on the Arab peoples, you‘re a great professor, and the Arab people need to learn more about themselves, do you think - sir - that the Arab mind, is a metaphysical mind and illogical as imagined by some Western scientists?

*I would like to have done more on the great Arabic peoples. I read a little about early Arabic civilization, for example in Marshall Hodgson’s great work on Islam (The Venture of Islaqm). But unfortunately my energy is limited and having studied western Europe, Nepal, Japan and China, I am running out of time!

On Arab mind…I do not believe in something called ‘the Arab mind’, which is as ridiculous as talking about the ‘Chinese’ or ‘Russian’ or ;Brazilian’ mind. And certainly the history of great scientists and artists of Arab civilizations show them to have been as logical and practical and rational as anyone in history.

-         Professor Martha Nussbaum has assured me that the modern means of communication reduce the innate intelligence and critical awareness, especially in the field of humanities, what do you think, sir?

*No, I don’t think so at all. If anything, modern communication will sharpen intelligence and critical awareness – if people exercise care. The new communicaiton technologies are opening up the world of ideas in many ways – potentials for research, for writing and filming, for publishging – wonderful.

- Dear Professor Alan  Macfarlane  Where arrived draft digital Himalayas?Especially It is considered a significant step in order to preserve the oral heritage of humanity ..

*This came out of the influence of my great Professor of Anthropology, Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, plus an interest in digital technologies and communication. It was developed jointly with Dr. Mark Turin of Yale University and my wife Sarah Harrison, the web-mistress of www.alanmacfarlane.com  where many of my lectures, two hundred interviews and writings can be found. I first became interested in communications technology in the early days of the computer, in the 1970’s. In the 1980’s the potentials of the laser disc (videodisc) became apparent and I helped to make the first academic videodisc (on the Naga peoples). As the internet revolution spread, I realized that the future of teaching and wider communication, and particularly the ability to communicate with people in poorer parts of the world who do not have direct access to libraries, museums and high grade teachers, was through the internet. Also that much of the world’s culture needs to be preserved digitally. Hence my work on digital websites.





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