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Word Count: 591
In his book The Forest People Colin Turnbull achieves the taste and feel of life inside a Mbuti community but in doing so offers a skewed anthropological look at the peoples of the African Congo When reading the book I did truly feel a part of the Mbuti world but I also noticed a lack of anthropological accuracy when it came to portraying effect had on Pygmies by the lives and cultures of surrounding natives Not only does Turnbull lack respect non-Pygmy culture but he also doesnt much account for the possibility of change as he idealizes the Mbuti belief and living system in the state it currently exists As illustrated quite early in the book when Cephus daughter dies of dysentery the Mbuti people copy some of the patterns of ritual grief used by their villager Negro neighbors It is clear from their behavior that the Pygmies hold little stock in the cultural beliefs of the villagers and play along simply to not upset the good food source they can use the Negroes as However the way that Turnbull portrays this relationship is extremely one-sided often times not even giving the Negroes the dignity of a tribal name His treatment of their beliefs is similar and gives only the vaguest reasons for their behavior citing belief in spirits and fear of the forest Since Negro customs obviously affect pygmy behavior it seems curious that Turnbull should come so close to completely ignoring cultural reasons driving it Forces moving culture are much clearer and completely defined when Turnbull follows the pygmies into the forest and away from the influence of surrounding villages Here the ritual of the molimo is seen in its pure state as are other rituals such as marriage and the elima From the Mbuti and therefore Turnbulls point of view it is there in the middle of the forest that everything is right with the world and no polluting influence
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