The main ideas in the introduction and chapter one of Two European Images is to understand in a broader how social anthropology and colonialism are related. This can be done by going deep into these two subjects by comprehending that anthropology is a rounded discipline which has been centered on studying the non-European tribes and societies that were influenced either socially, politically or economically by the European countries when they came into these countries and begun infiltrating into their traditions and tribal systems. The following essay thus seeks to give a summary of the work of Talal Asad in his review of the Two European Images and explain deeply of the meaning of functional anthropology and orientalism (Asad 270).
The critical message expressed by Talal is to understand the general images that arise when it comes to institutional relationships. This means that he tries his best to explain the relationship between the rulers and ruled as expressed by both functional anthropology and orientalism. He tries to tell how the European countries invaded the African countries and changed their whole political structures and not only influenced these countries politically but also economically, intellectually and even spiritually.
Many researchers have often overlooked certain aspects of colonialism and focused mainly on explaining the improvements that colonization brought to African countries, and they had failed to understand and write about how these countries were functioning before the Europeans invaded their lands. The western countries had chiefs and kings who ruled them accordingly without any forceful action, but instead, they listened to the views of every member and made generalized decisions with no discrimination.
The two main theories bought forth by Talal Asad are functional anthropology and Islamic orientalism. Functional anthropology tries to show two sides of the same system in the African societies, and this is the ruler and the ruled. There is a harmonic relationship between the ruler and the ruled where the views and opinions of the governed are put into consideration. Before any general decision is made, the kings or the chiefs consult with the people in that society and their opinions are always considered. In summary, the two parties are bound by ties of support and interdependence.
Islamic Orientalism shows that there is a massive divide between the one who is governed and the one who governs. Where the governor gets to rule harshly and with no opposition and the governed has no option but to follow everything the governor says with no complaint even though they are suffering. These clearly show the two images of rule and power, where one gets to choose, and the other one is selected for. The difference has been attributed to the fact that these two images emerged at different times of the European encounter with the two societies. The Islamic organizations were encountered at an earlier period, and they have treated as powerful adversaries hence the forceful rule (Asad 104).
In my opinion, the two theories have tried to explain in depth social anthropology and colonialism. However, there are still many loops that have been left unexplained and only assumed by the researchers. Further reading and research have to be done to fully understand colonialism because up to date so many people are still confused by what exactly happened. The affected need to be allowed to tell their story from their perspective so that these issues and what they went through can be understood.
Asad, Talal. "Two European images of the non-European rule." Economy and Society 2.3 (1973): 263-277.
Asad, Talal. "Two European Images of Non-European Rule. In, Talal Asad, ed." Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter (1973): 103-18.
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