“Before it could publish an issue on race, the magazine first had to look at its own history. ‘Some of what you find in our archives leaves you speechless,’ writes editor Susan Goldberg. The 1916 caption of the picture of these aboriginal Australians described them as ‘savages who rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings.'”
This is both incredibly obvious, and remarkably shocking. I don’t think that any academic geographic should be surprised that for generations, National Geographic’s goals to describe the world’s people and it mission to sell magazines made its coverage a product of the cultural norms of the times, the magazine producers and subscribers. Still, this open honesty coming from National Geographic about National Geographic’s past is a breath of fresh air that is quite encouraging, even if some still think that National Geographic’s issue and cover miss the mark.
Questions to Ponder: Are there some voyeuristic tendencies we might exhibit as well learn about, or discuss other cultures? How do we highlight culture differences without making making those with different cultural practices seem as innately ‘other’ or ‘less than?’