Savage Versus Civilized
Historically, the use of the terms “savage” and “civilized” reflected prevalent European ideological assumptions of cultural and racial superiority. In defining indigenous peoples as less-than-human, colonizers justified their right to appropriate land and subordinate those who resided there. Such formulations are now abhorrent and decolonizing efforts question many accompanying assumptions.
Civilized societies are hierarchically organized, with complex political and economic systems. Commonly cited features of civilization include private property, division of labor, monetary systems of exchange, literacy, technologies, and codified legal systems.
Although relations of domination occurred within Asia and Africa, dichotomization that labeled and helped to create inequalities may have emerged when Western European societies first made contact with non-Europeans. Identifying “the other” and discussing differences implied comparison to Western culture. Indigenous...
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