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From (B)edouin to (A)borigine : the myth of the desert noble savage

Graulund, Rune (2009) From (B)edouin to (A)borigine : the myth of the desert noble savage. History of the Human Sciences, 22 (1). pp. 79-104.

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Abstract

This article examines the myth of the supposed superiority of the desert noble savage over civilized man. With the Bedouin of Arabia and the Aborigines of Australia as its two prime examples, the article argues that two versions of this myth can be traced: one in which the desert noble savage is valorized due to his valour, physical prowess and martial skill (Bedouin); and another, later version, where the desert noble savage is valorized as a pacifist, an ecologist and a mythmaker/storyteller (Aborigines). The article concludes by examining the way in which this turn from one type of desert noble savage to another reflects the manner in which western modernity has shifted its values from Cartesian dualities and Enlightenment rationalism to that of networks, potentialities, ecology and myth.