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UK: ‘Stamping Out’ Media Racism Against Indigenous Peoples

Amid growing awareness about indigenous peoples’ issues in the world, British periodicals The Guardian and The Observer have new guidelines against using two phrases that activists say marginalize and de-legitimize indigenous peoples.

Survival International's online campaign to Stamp Out racism against tribal people

Survival International's campaign to Stamp Out racism against tribal people

The campaign against using terms like “primitive people” and “stone age” is headed by Survival International. Its Stamp It Out project asks supporters to be on the lookout for derogatory descriptions of tribal peoples in the media, and send postcards or e-cards to editor via their website.

Survival International Blog details the recent discussion in UK media about reporting on indigenous peoples:

British newspaper The Independent today carried a prominent opinion piece from Survival’s director, Stephen Corry. Since former BBC man Michael Buerk put his foot in it, global debate on the use of terms like ‘primitive’ to describe tribal peoples has reached a new pitch.

[…]The Guardian and The Observer papers now warn against the use of terms like ‘primitive’ and ’stone-age’ in their renowned style guide.

The Wild Hunt, a blog by “committed polytheist” Jason Pitzl-Waters, informs:

Survival’s “Stamp It Out” campaign was recently successful in convincing British newspapers The Guardian and The Observer to ban the terms ‘primitive’ and ‘Stone Age’ to describe tribal peoples.

Commenting on Pitzl-Waters’ post, Here In The Cave of Wonder writes:

“Primitive” and “Stone Age” both come from an outdated concept of evolution. There are no living “primitive” life forms or people. Evolut[i]on is merely a means of adapting to one's environment, not a ladder, so there is no way to progress from “primitive” to “advanced”.


In short, these terms are really just a kind of 19th century ethnocentrism/anthropocentrism that was rejected by scientists and anthropologists many years ago as being a scientifically inaccurate.

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