Homo politicus: etnografiando Potomac Land

Al mejor estilo narrativo de la etnografía clasica (utilizada con bastante ironia), Dana Milbank publico: "Homo politicus: The strange and scary tribes that run our government, 2007". El libro trata sobre los hombres de Potomac (lease Potomac Land : Washinghton) de sus rituales, luchas por mantener el control de la tribu, etc etc. O como mejor lo dice en la introduccion:


I came to live in political Washington – Potomac Land, if you will – 12 years ago. For most of that time, I have lived among the natives as if I were one of them: working, eating, dressing and socializing as they do and wearing the same government-issued ID cards and BlackBerry devices. As I gained their trust over time, they allowed me to join them in their homes, war rooms and tribal councils. Seeing them that way, I felt like a Spanish explorer witnessing an Aztec human sacrifice for the first time. In his natural state, Homo Politicus was so defined by tribalism that he placed tribe, or party, above even family and nation-state. Though equipped with the tools of modern civilization, his work proved to be less efficient – and his rituals more bizarre – than even the most primitive of cultures.


To understand such behavior, I followed Potomac Man through his daily rituals: the morning “Gaggle” at the White House, the lunchtime reading of the “Hotline,” the afternoon viewing of Wolf Blitzer, and the evening fundraiser. I learned of his weekly rhythms: the Sunday morning shows that are more popular than church, the lawmakers’ Thursday afternoon rush to National Airport, and the administration’s Friday evening “dump” of bad news. I observed his seasonal festivals at each stage of the biennial electoral cycle: the winter budget battle, the summer recess and the fall campaign. And I explored the Potomac rites of passage: election, the accumulation of seniority, and, finally, the ascent to lobbyist.

Admittedly, even intensive research cannot thoroughly explain why a senior White House official would shoplift from Target, why a member of Congress would stash bribe money in food containers in his freezer or strike a police officer with her cell phone. Neither can such study adequately account for the senator who calls man-made global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated” or the Senate candidate who explained a low turnout at an airport rally by making up a story about a tree falling on a hangar. Such Potomac Land mysteries may never be solved. But they are well worth contemplating over a kosher ham sandwich."

(partes del libro se pueden consutar en la pagina web de la autora)

Me viene a la mente el texto de Horace Miner "Body ritual among the Nacirema (1956)", quien describia:

"El ritual corporal diario que todos realizan comprende un rito bucal. A pesar de que esta gente es muy cuidadosa en el aseo bucal, este rito consiste en una práctica que asombra a los no iniciados, por ser repugnante. Me informaron que el ritual consiste en llevarse un puñado de pelos de cerdo a la boca, junto con ciertos polvos mágicos, todo lo cual se mueve en la boca con una serie muy específica de gestos".

Como plantea Rosaldo (1990), mas que parodia esto debe entenderse como un critica a la etnografia clasica y la creencia de la objetividad autoritaria del observador imparcial.

Claro, lo de Milbank va por otro lado, pero no deja de resultar interesante.

En fin, ¿que se podría decir de la tribu politica peruana?

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