THE CULTURE CONCEPT
THE CULTURE CONCEPT ANTH 208
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Mrs. Allen Torphy on Wednesday September 9, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to ANTH 208 at University of Washington taught by Staff in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see /class/192355/anth-208-university-of-washington in anthropology, evolution, sphr at University of Washington.
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Date Created: 09/09/15
Film How Tasty Chris Brown p 1 Notes on How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman 1971 Nelson Pereira dos Santos dir 80 min Based loosely on the experiences and published account of Hans Staden 1557 Several orienting questions will be helpful in viewing this film Its framing story is one of revenge of the intention of a group of Tupinambas to avenge a fallen comrade by killing and eating another man In this regard we need to ask under what circumstances can one Frenchman one Tupi Is such an exchange or equation possible Even more specifically what misunderstandings are needed in order to facilitate exchange The opening scenes of the film set up a disconnect between representation and reality The priest s letter to the Cardinal bears a problematic relation to what we see on the screen eg quotall opportunities for sin are eliminated by banning women from the camp save in the company of their husbandsquot yet there are native women in abundance and it evokes a background of authoritative representations which turn out to be true inversions of reality For instance that savages lie and cheat that they value the wrong things and fight over baubles that they are cruel to their own kind The ensuing story is about trying to forge a link across a gap of difference while it at the same time satirizes some of those assumed differences the difference between French and Portuguese for example or between Tupinambas and Tupiniquins The Frenchman engages in a complex attempt to negotiate differences and to find points of similarity with his captors through a series of strategies with the ultimate goal of attaining his freedom First he attempts to hold on to his French identity in defiance of his identification as Portuguese which after all is why he is a captive This is hopeless in large part because of his betrayal by a fellow Frenchman the Trader but also because of the realization that identity ultimately is social depending on the people around you rather than a putative interior independent or essential self He then sets out to become a better native than the natives exploiting his superior knowledge in an enlightenment rationality fable on the order of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur s Court or perhaps Robinson Crusoe He fancies himself a kind of god from native mythology but they burn the houses he builds and cultivation is no fit sphere for a man to gain respect He must shift his efforts to accommodate local norms as a man he must achieve respect through war in his case by obtaining gunpowder He must strive harder and harder to become the same as them in order to once more achieve his separation from them his difference his freedom And finally when he achieves his goal and Cunhambebe his master recognizes that he is worthy of respect he finds that respect means something different to him than it does to the Tupi For him it means freedom to the Tupi it means he is at last worthy of dying in exchange for one of their own This misunderstanding of the quotsamequot object is even more extended in his relationship with Sebiopepe his wife and the wife of the dead man Tapirugu his sacrifice will eventually avenge and their respective efforts to reach a mutual understanding a common ground often show up in language Amidst his at first stumbling eventually fluent efforts to learn Tupi ironically almost his only Tupi when he is captured is the word for Frenchman mayeer approximate phonetic rendering so from the start his identity is displaced in language as well as in social consequence milestones of identification are frequently marked by claiming his circumstances in French when after some time he is relaxing in his hammock Film How Tasty Chris Brown p 2 for an almost Christian day of rest he proclaims that he wishes to stay at home today repeating for llhomequot chez moi Sebiopepe also works at bridging the gap between them and employs language to effect that bridge using quotmon mariquot French quotmy husbandquot as a term of endearment for him They seem at last to have achieved this bond an intimacy and respect for each other that erases their differences but the same sentiments intimacy and respect produce different effects in them respectively For him it is the desire to take her with him when he goes For her it is the desire for him to die well like a brave and to be incorporated into her body and into the tribe The dissonance between these assumptions stemming though they do from a common foundation is what is so disconcerting about her giggling admission that while yes she will be sad when he is killed she will also eat him When she shoots him and sabotages his escape it is not merely loyalty to her tribe but loyalty to her image of him that seems to motivate her From this perspective the strange scene on the rock where she instructs him on how to die becomes especially important Though they have achieved a kind of unity of purpose between them aided by their sexual desire for each other that old negation of difference they can only successfully hold the differences between their respective understandings of that unity in check through acting out the rite Surmounting difference relies on the effect of an ironic distance on the remove inherent in representation Interestingly when difference irresistibly looms again at the last he gives the formula she has taught him approximately llmy people will come to take revenge on you for my deathquot not in Tupi as he learned it but in French The same words it is apparent from the last epitath have a different effect and the price of one Frenchman is a beach lined with Tupi dead which stretch for leagues The extermination of the Tupi stems in some way from the insertion of a French equivalent for Tupi at the very core of their cultural apparatus the same phrase with an ineluctable differencem There are of course other points in the film where unstable equivalences are pivotal The most obvious are probably the conceits surrounding the exchange of material goods with the Trader The women provide a cultural context for the exchange greeting the Trader as their old friend who has lltraveled so far just to see usquot lavishing gifts upon him and telling him they hope he has brought many gifts to console them for they have had much grief since last they met The exchange is facilitated by different cultural auspices but also by exactly symmetrical misunderstandings on both sides each exchanges treasure for worthless baubles On the one hand trinkets and beads for priceless wood and pepper worth its weight in gold literally on the other hand trees and weeds for rare ornaments and iron tools Both sides however agree on the value of one commodity gunpowder which makes it unexchangeable under the system of mutual contempt by virtue of which they carry out their trades Each side has too its own special lust that breaks down their fundamental respect for the social being of others literally their right to live lust for gold on the European side and for flesh on the Tupi side This equivalence of course is constructed in the film and would be subject to a good deal more historical and ethnographic interrogation There are other interesting equivalences drawn in the film that bear examination such as the Frenchman s invocation of Tupathunder as the magical source of gunpowder and the Tupi response by successfully dancing to produce a storm But that s enough for a start Oh and yes it is supposed to be funny
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