Sahlins–Obeyesekere debate  

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"In the 1990s Gananath Obeyesekere entered into a well-known intellectual debate with Marshall Sahlins over the rationality of indigenous peoples. The debate was carried out through an examination of the details of Captain James Cook's death in the Hawaiian Islands in 1779. At the heart of the debate was how to understand the rationality of indigenous people. Obeyesekere insisted that indigenous people thought in essentially the same way as Westerners and was concerned that any argument otherwise would paint them as "irrational" and "uncivilized". In contrast Sahlins argued that each culture may have different types of rationality that make sense of the world by focusing on different patterns and explain them within specific cultural narratives, and that assuming that all cultures lead to a single rational view is a form of eurocentrism."--Sholem Stein

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The Sahlins–Obeyesekere debate is an academic controversy in anthropology about the death of the British explorer James Cook, particularly whether the native Hawaiians believed him to be Lono, a deity (or akua) associated with fertility, agriculture, rainfall, music and peace. The debate took shape in 1992, when Gananath Obeyesekere published The Apotheosis of Captain Cook, which criticized the work of Marshall Sahlins on the issue. In addition to the factual issues, the debate has become symbolic of deeper issues in anthropology, including whether Western scholars can understand non-Western cultures.

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