In his 1887 study of tattooing in the Pacific, the German ethnologist Wilhelm Joest made some general remarks about the nature of the relationship between ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ civilizations:

The times when Europeans looked down with sovereign disdain upon primitive peoples — ‘the savages’ — are over. With every day the conviction spreads that, with our modern perspectives and customs, we are only slightly in front of the too-long neglected or derided savages, and that we are forced to recognize that our mental life stems from primitive peoples. The more our self-understanding rises, the more the cleft narrows between us and primitive peoples … Customs, mores and thoughts that initially appear ‘barbaric’ can on closer inspection be seen among us in sometimes unchanged forms and other times in a modified form, in accordance with differing anthropological or geographical conditions.1

This heavily...

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