Eskimos Enlightenment: Archeology of a clumsy view
AbstractThe present paper retraces, in an ethno-historical perspective, the genesis of the oriented, elliptic, simplistic and reductive representation of the Eskimos in the Diderot & d’Alembert’s Encyclopaedia. Adopting an inter-disciplinary approach (historical, anthropological and textual, as well), the paper wonders upon the mechanisms which have governed the construction of the Eskimos’ image, and deciphers them considering the philosophical challenges and the ideological conditioning of the Century of Lights. The Eskimos’ image conveyed by the Encyclopaedia emphasizes their bestiality and primitivism, to stick them as the prototype of the savagery, the personification of a degenerated and shy humanity of the borders. The image of the Inuit - stereotyped, preformed and caricatured - is built through bias, omissions, and generalizations. It is intended to present them as fully antonymic to civilisation. In the Diderot and Chevalier de Jaucourt’s writing, the fierce and anthropophagic Inuit are the archetypal symbol of an extreme and terrifying anthropological difference which is the outcome of a geographical and climatic determinism. Far away the highly idealized and aesthetically-oriented image of the Good Savage, the Eskimos show-up in the writing of the Century of Lights‟ scholars a borderline humanity, deprived of any culture mark, but, nevertheless belonging to the human family.
Anuac is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence 4.0. With the licence CC-BY, authors retain the copyright, allowing anyone to download, reuse, re-print, modify, distribute and/or copy their contribution. The work must be properly attributed to its author. It should be also mentioned that the work has been first published by the journal Anuac.
Having published these contributions for the first time, Anuac will have the right to publish them integrally or partially as reprints or possibly as part of a thematic issue, in both digital and printed format.
It is not necessary to ask further permissions both to author or the journal.
Photographs and other images
Photographs and other images marked with the symbol Copyright © cannot be distributed. The readers of the journal or the users of the website can download photographs and other images that are not marked with the above mentioned symbol.