The problem of identity fraud or pretenders is not peculiar to Hellenism: more or less all indigenous traditions face the stereotyping and commercialization of their identity by individuals who seek to profit in several ways from consumers who in turn are chasing the «ancient atmosphere,» the exotic, the foreign, the alien’s otherness just out of curiosity or hunger for meaning.
There is a whole industry of cultural appropriation and deception, pervaded by a spirit of consumption that has been accurately analyzed in Erich Fromm’s «To Have or to Be» (1976). This industry is especially thriving in the various monotheistic outgrowths (occultism, paganism, the New age movement etc.). Its shadow, however, reaches far beyond the walls of the New Age market, media and publishing companies, affecting many people’s lives, whose religion, ethnic identity and ancestry is sold online for some dollars. It has also started to infiltrate and infest academia, and thus to distort the image of the targeted indigenous cultures from the outside. This is a very dangerous development, since it can somehow «normalize» the destructive activities of imposters, debauch research itself, and eventually utilize the communication line between the academic world and the public in order to carry out the exploitation of already damaged indigenous cultures.
Even more: imposter’s activities within the academic sphere endanger the credibility of academia and the efforts made by ethnologists to reconcile the biases of early ethnological research towards indigenous peoples that has led to the decolonization of research, a relatively new, but open-minded, selfreflexive approach to learning, understanding and teaching in the context of academia. The approach of decolonization is the result of years of reconciliation, reflection, self-correction and difficult debates within the scientific community.
We cannot allow pretenders to thwart efforts being made towards an open and unbiased researching, which, by the way, has a lot to contribute on many issues in regards to the dialogue of cultures, since a deep understanding of peoples and their approach to the world can build bridges of acceptance and political detente. Therefore imposters should not be allowed to continue exploiting indigenous people’s collective identities for profit or social feedback, using the platforms, tools and resources of academia to undo the whole point of research: to know, to understand, to teach and to share the accumulated knowledge with all for the good of all. It is up to all of us to put a stop to their game.
Indigenous or pretender? (last time checked: March 12, 2022)
The violence of pretending to be Indigenous (last time checked: March 12, 2022)