Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Ethnic Studies
In her essay, Christine Morris addresses an important topic in the study of ethnic relations: the relationship between the written word and the oral tradition. She points out that studies often concentrate on the economic and social effects that the written tradition has on oral cultures; however, the ethics of this process has been ignored in research. Morris examines this aspect of the relationship and argues that the replacement of the oral tradition with the written word is a continuation of western chauvinism that has been the basis of the European conquest of aboriginal cultures in the world. The replacement of the oral with the written is thus a form of colonialism -- although very subtle -- in its argument to protect and save oral traditions for posterity. But the written word can only supplement the oral tradition; it cannot -- and it should not -- supplant orality.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1991