Tribal peoples not stone age and primitive say experts

The Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA), the UK’s professional body for anthropologists, has condemned the use of terms like ‘stone age’ and ‘primitive’ to describe tribal and indigenous peoples alive today.

The condemnation comes in the wake of controversial comments made on the BBC by Baroness Jenny Tonge, the Liberal Democrat peer, who called the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert ‘stone age’ and ‘primitive.’

The ASA has become the latest supporter of Survival International’s campaign against racism in the media which challenges the use of terms like ‘stone age’, ‘primitive’ and ‘savage’ to describe tribal and indigenous peoples. Other supporters include prominent journalists such as John Simpson, John Pilger and George Monbiot.

The ASA statement reads, ‘All anthropologists would agree that the negative use of the terms ‘primitive’ and ‘Stone Age’ to describe [tribal peoples] has serious implications for their welfare. Governments and other social groups. . . have long used these ideas as a pretext for depriving such peoples of land and other resources.’

Survival International’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘It is a great boost to our campaign that the ASA has come on board. Journalists and editors need to understand that the use of these kinds of terms directly contributes to the suffering of tribal and indigenous peoples all around the world.’

To find out more about Survival’s Stamp it Out campaign click here

For further information contact Miriam Ross on (+44) (0)20 7687 8734 or email [email protected]