Hannah Arendt’s Antiprimitivism

Political Theory 38 (3):394-423 (2010)
Abstract
This essay examines Arendt's descriptions of "Hottentots" in The Origins of Totalitarianism, especially the comparisons and contrasts she frequently draws between Hottentots and other peoples. In particular, Arendt highlights dehumanization of presumptively "civilized" people in comparing them to Africa "savages." Close reading of such analogies demands that we look beyond the racial explanations that other scholars have offered and focus instead on how Arendt's conception of humanity is bound up with a specific sense of culture that is antiprimitivist—exclusive of peoples without history, primitives. Analysis of her moral anthropology uncovers the Cape Colony discourses and postenlightenment German philosophical supports that inform her antiprimitivism. However, Arendt's antiprimitivism may not remain confined to Origins. In later essays,Arendt analyzes the various aspects of culture in instructive ways. Yet she also synthesizes culture concepts into a schema that introduces problems for her.
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DOI 10.1177/0090591709359594
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Politics as Culture: Hannah Arendt and the Public Realm.M. Canovan - 1985 - History of Political Thought 6 (3):617.

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